Chapter Fifteen

"It all began, I said, when I decided that some experts don't really know enough to make a pronouncement of doom on a human being."

Part Two

“Well there's a dark cloud rising from the desert floor
I packed my bags and I'm heading straight into the storm
Gonna be a twister to blow everything down
That ain't got the faith to stand its ground
Blow away the dreams that tear you apart
Blow away the dreams that break your heart
Blow away the lies that leave you nothing
but lost and brokenhearted

Well the dogs on Main Street howl 'cause they understand
If I could take one moment into my hands
Mister I ain't a boy, no I'm a man
And I believe in a promised land
And I believe in a promised land
And I believe in a promised land.”

~Bruce Springsteen

Prognosis: the utilization of a set of precedents to determine someone’s doom or prosperity.

Lab Notes:

“I know I have been lucky. My body has already carried me far beyond the point where the medical experts in 1954 thought it would go. According to my calculations, my heart has furnished me with 876, 946, 280 more heartbeats than were thought possible by the insurance doctors.

It was the sheerest of coincidences that, on the tenth anniversary of my 1964 illness, I should happen to meet on the street in New York one of the specialists who had made the melancholy diagnosis of progressive paralysis. He was clearly surprised to see me. I held out my hand. He took it. I didn't hold back on the handshake. I had a point I wanted to make, and I thought the best way to do so was through a greeting firm enough to make an impression. I increased the pressure until he winced and asked to be released. He said he could tell from my handshake that he didn't have to ask about my present condition, but he was eager to hear what was behind the recovery.

It all began, I said, when I decided that some experts don't really know enough to make a pronouncement of doom on a human being. And I said I hoped they would be careful about what they said to others; they might be believed and that could be the beginning of the end.” - Norman Cousins


You Can't Go Home

We moved back in with my mom and Nan. Sean was able to go back to working for Holden and spent the year that followed as Holden’s foreman, flipping houses. I still wasn’t working, and even without having to pay rent, we struggled. My health insurance COBRA was $843 a month, and we still had prescription and office visit co-pays.

We were grateful to have my mom and Nan take us in while we rebuilt our life, but nonetheless, it was an adjustment to move back in with family after being on our own for almost a decade and having spent the last three years in our own groove in Hawaii. But, like my family always does, we navigated new dynamics and hard times by laughing a lot – and we did that by pranking each other every time we found an opportunity to – like when Sean and my mom wrapped a rubber band around the sink hose, hoping to soak me – but instead, Nan went to the kitchen before I did. They saw her go in, and they figured, “Well, this will be funny, too!” So, she turned on the sink, got soaked, jumped up two feet in the air, and yelled out, “OH! I’m going to beat the shit out of whoever did that!”

We started new traditions; we played the game Clue a few nights a week, and we all got a kick out of how much Nan would try to peek at whoever was showing their card to whoever’s turn it was – and she would admit it. One night she leaned over and looked at Sean’s cards. He caught her doing it and exclaimed, “Shirley’s peeking!” To which she replied, “Yeah, but I turned my head away real quick.

One morning, after waking up to an overnight coating of six inches of snow, I poured my coffee and wrapped myself up on the couch, looking out the slider doors to the backyard. When we left for Hawaii, I thought I'd never live in a place where it snows ever again. I was done with the cold. But what I think I was done with was the days after the snow - when it starts to melt and gets muddy, and the earth mixes in with the white. I wasn't done with the untouched beauty of the first snow; of quiet mornings with my coffee cup propped up, keeping my knees warm in between sips... of branches holding white and wind playing with flakes. Sand between my toes was great... but in a different kind of way, so were mornings like this.

As the winter carried on and that first snow mixed with mud and reality, one evening, Sean got home from work and

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