The simple choice

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Another lupus/nephritis related piece from my blog at www.oberata.com Posted here so maybe we can all get a chuckle out of our mortality.

The Simple Choice

“It comes down to a simple choice: get busy livin’ or get busy dyin’.” – Andy Dufresne, Shawshank Redemption

I had another one of those moments today.

It wasn’t when my kidney doc was explaining my options. It wasn’t when he used the words “dialysis” and “maybe next year” in sequence.
It wasn’t when we reviewed my latest bloodwork, which has been trending worse and worse and worse.

It was during the ride home, with all of that happy mental data as a backdrop. Just before I got to the freeway, I looked in the rearview mirror.

We were being tailgated by a hearse.

I smiled the driest of smiles and just shook my head.



Actually, it was sort of funny. If anyone would appreciate sarcastic harbingers of doom, it’s me. (Friends I see you nodding.)

As I said, there have been many “moments” – most of them not funny. Like in 2002, when clumps of hair were falling from my head. Like 2003, when severe arthritis prevented me from being able to get out of bed. Like 2004, when I ran around my house at midnight screaming – scraping my scalp to ribbons – because of a rash from an allergic reaction. Like 2005, when during a 3-day vomit-a-thon in the hospital I asked my wife, straight-faced, “Am I dying?” Like 2009, when a respected cardiologist frowned at the screen and said, “Mr. Timpanaro, you need open heart surgery.”

OK, so why this litany of pain? Everyone’s got a challenge, right?

On one level, I’m writing this because this is what writers do. In order to deal with ‘moments’, some people huddle up with their spouse, some call friends, some people go to the bar, some people watch TV. I’ve actually done all of those to cope. But writing is a healthy ingredient for me. Maybe even cathartic. I’ve got a lot to think about – a lot to figure out here. So even if this tale of woe wears you out, just know it helped the writer!

The other thing? My docs are worried, and I have to say I’m a bit concerned about my longevity – maybe for the first time – really. My condition (Lupus & Lupus Nephritis) is sneaky because I rarely “look” sick. I’ve had decent stretches of time, living a relatively normal life. But other times – like recently – I feel like a wayward USS Enterprise that hasn’t docked in awhile; it’s low on supplies, low on fuel, and low on morale. Suddenly we traipse into enemy territory, where an ambitious Ferengi cruiser goes bonkers with photon torpedoes, and my ship is a speeding ball of flames crashing toward some uninhabited planet. I need someone to beam me out of here! Wake me up from this shitty dream where I may actually die! GO TO COMMERCIAL!!!

But this is real. And there’s a hearse tailgating me.

What this really means? I’m being forced to choose.


After 8 years of chronic illness, you think through a lot of things: the physical, the mental, the spiritual, the solical, the metaphysical, the impossible, the miraculous. But thinking through doesn’t make you wiser, necessarily. The only way I feel wiser is that now I’m less dogmatic, and I’ve got better questions!

Here’s THE question for me:

“Are you going to choose to live, or are you going to choose to die?”

It reminds me of what I once heard about vets or trauma victims; that there are only two types. The first decides to make himself a complete success and overcomes ridiculous odds. He chooses to live, and wins. The second type sees the potential to be the first type, but fades into a victim-mentality, achieving little. He chooses to die, and loses.

I can’t possibly introduce every possible angle here, but the crux of the decision is lifestyle. It’s nutrition. It’s a dedication to mental health – by not crucifying myself for falling short. To change. To eliminate garbage and to give myself the best possible chance to live well for myself, my wife, my kids, my friends, and the world.

It seems like a simple choice.

But if you’ll pardon the continuation of the Star Trek theme, I’m low on fuel. I’m low on morale. I’ve got a great crew, but I’m even wearing them out. I need to be zapped right now by Dr. Beverly Crusher’s anti-nephritis doo-hickey!

Oh, well. You get the point. I need to choose to win. It sounds so simple yet it involves a lot. By reading this, you’ve probably done enough . . . unless you feel like doing laundry or juicing 50 pounds of celery!

To whomever is reading this, I appreciate YOU and I want you to be thankful for your health. Also, if you’re reading this through, you’ve likely done more for me than I’ve ever done for you (I checked – my stats are so lopsided on the “take!”) – so thank you.

And, no matter your trial, go get busy . . . doing you know what.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7tkzc...layer_embedded The scene from Shawshank Redemption - watch only if you want to get fired up!!

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  1. BonusMom's Avatar
    Please keep posting! I appreciate the humorous spin you've put on this dreadful disease.
  2. Serenity81's Avatar
    I must say, you articulate the inner monologue much better than I can! It's hilarious though, because when it floats through my own mind, it seems as witty and humorous as it sounds when you write it, but when I try writing it out, it never ends up the way I hear it in my own head.

    Keep writing, it helps more than just yourself... =)
  3. Oberata's Avatar
    Hey, that's my hope . . . . that people identify with it and can maybe get some healthy laughs going at my expense. You lushes! LOL.

    I'll post all Lupus related stuff here b/c of the great initial responses I've gotten (like yours).

    Take care,
  4. MicRoMediC's Avatar
    You are a writer at heart. This was good and interesting. Thanks for sharing, looking forward to more "humor" from you. When I write things are so scattered and I have so much to say and have no idea how to say it. Anyway, thanks.