Not in game shape. Anyone who has bothered to listen to the inane comments of professional athletes returning to a sport after a prolonged layoff will no doubt know the phrase: game shape. One can hit the gym, run cardio on a treadmill, practice at full speed, but until the athlete gets into a game or two they aren’t in game shape. And those first few games are unusually tiring for them.
I found myself pretty tired this month. Christmas is not a restorative time for me, hasn’t been for a while anyway. There were those precious years when my children were young and the magic narrative around the holiday made the season positive for a while. Before that, I think I used alcohol and cynicism to help me manage the fatigue and sadness. This year I struggled quite a bit (having given up the alcohol and cynicism). Susan said I looked worse than her on Christmas Eve, which is pretty grim if you saw her that day!
Susan had arrived back from London in much worse condition than when I saw her a week prior. There were four days that first week back of hospital visits, and then a trip to NYC to visit the sarcoma specialist, then following up with two more medical appointments in Montreal, the last one resulting in Susan crying and walking out of the consult and no one from the medical team attempting to stop her or comfort her.
And accompanying these previous weeks has been Susan’s physical suffering and worsening condition; and me being with her for much of it, and witnessing all of that day to day. Susan had been quite independent of late and I had grown accustomed to her state of relative wellness. And I was not quite ready to handle the sudden downturn in things. I knew it was coming, I took good care of myself, prepared as best I could, but it still zapped me (as the boxer Mike Tyson once said: “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”). Cold weather and Christmas probably didn’t help, not to mention the mental drain from seeing poor caregiving skills up close by a medical team (after waiting hours in a windowless examining room); but I think it’s just the fact that I wasn’t in game shape.
I guess if I was a professional athlete I’d offer up a bunch of platitudes. “I just need to put my head down and get back in game shape as soon as I can; or take it day to day until I get my legs back”. But as it turns out, the day Susan was admitted to the hospital this week I went back to my flat in Dorval for the night. I called my sons and invited them over for pizza and movie at my place. My oldest son declined, immersed in a previous commitment, but my youngest son, Loch, ventured out into the frigid night with me. It was a simple evening in my overly warm apartment, with a pizza and some chocolate turtles, a cat curled up between us, and just hanging out for a few hours that seemed to restore me. I am not sure if I’ll ever be in game shape when it comes to losing Susan to such a lousy end, but I’m glad I haven’t forgotten the things that help.