Monday, July 17, 2006

The Wizard of Awwz!

The mirror bounces back not so much a reflection these days as a rather bizarre apparition. My face is swollen almost past recognition in the mornings, a mask of cracks and scabs, lesions and scales. The swelling is so pronounced that the skin is pulled away from my eyeballs like a bad Tijuana face-lift. I look like George Chuvalo after his dance with Ali. Somewhere, lurking beneath that battered and bruised facade, is me.

Worse, I have become an utter coward. Three times in the past week I have had to force myself to apply the Efudex to my tortured epidermis. I dread the approach of the morning and evening application. It is agony. Once, ointment tube in hand, I actually backed away from the mirror, whimpering like a whipped puppy. I had to steel my resolve to smear a little cream on my face. I have to keep telling myself it is only for 45 days and each day I am one step closer to the last day.

The Doctor was right. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

Running the Totem to Totem Marathon in Skidegate was the heighth of stupidity. But the race and the trip was the culmination of so much dreaming and hoping over so many years that I just couldn't bring myself to bail out.

Then again, I could write the book on stupidity, have scaled the heights and plumbed the depths of all things stupid.

In the Stupidity Hall of Fame there is a plaque that says; Vince Hemingson - He did it all.

Having suffered chronic back pain for the better part of fifteen years, including a major construction accident, a car crash, nine months of physical rehabilitation and back surgery, I prided myself on being something of an authority on managing pain.

I was wrong.

I foolishly let my prescription of pain killers run out and my Doctor went on vacation. Hence, I have been getting by on over the counter remedies. I might as well be swallowing gum drops.

Over the years I have had one or two experiences with self-medication (Kids, don't try this at home!) but not to the extent that I've had to resort to over the past week.

It has been a long time since I've had beer with breakfast.

Even with 60 sunblock and a hat on, I should be staying out of the sun. Every errant ray feels like a blow-torch.

Taking a shower and washing my face with soap...

Well, words fail me. My imagination is bereft of description and my vocabulary has abandoned me. The act of soaping up my face is an act of masochism on a magnitude that borders on the sublime. A few times I have wondered what that strange noise I hear is as I shower, and then I realize that it is a strange involuntary moaning souns that escapes me. An eery experience let me tell you...

My normally bullet-proof ego has gone into the witness protection program, nowhere to be found.

The stares of people are beginning to weigh on me, as I have long since lost any desire to interact with the rest of the human race. I have zero interest in explaining myself.

Yesterday, at about eight o'clock in the evening, after a very, very, very (did I mention it was very?) long day, I had to pick up my fish from the Haida Gwaii trip from a friend's apartment. We had just arrived back from the airport and all I wanted to do was eat and then lie down. I was exhausted and at the end of my rope. We had first made arrangements to get the fish on Monday night and then that was changed at the last minute. Biting my tongue, I mustered up what was left of my sanity and made arrangements to grab the fish.

Try as I might I simply could not get my friend's intercom to work. I tried every combination I could think of, literally dozens of times. It was a situation not helped by the stares of people entering and exiting the building. In a large apartment block on a busy summer evening in the West End of Vancouver, there is a steady stream of traffic. Finally, in frustration, I went to tuck in behind someone as they entered the building. An elderly woman, in her sixties, with flaming red-dyed hair, a bitter face and a thick Spanish accent refused to let me in the building. Her eyes were filled with revulsion and disgust at my appearance. She clearly thought I was a Crackhead. Her spitting in my face as she demanded to know who I was and what I was doing at the door of her building almost drove me over the edge. I swear to God, I almost grabbed her by the throat and resisted the urge to smash my fist into her spiteful bitter old visage..

Walking to the nearest telephone booth, I was astonished to pass my friend driving his car up the street. This was the same person who had insisted I had to get the fish as soon as possible and who called me thirty minutes earlier to badger me into coming over. Needless to say, we exchanged a few words....

I can't say I have ever suffered fools gladly, but lately...


I have lost any tolerance I might have had, or semblance of patience. The easy give and take that is an essential part of interaction with other little monkeys is simply gone. I can't even bear to be around myself.

I am no longer stoic. Now, I am just in the last few miles of the hardest race it seems I have ever run, trying desperately to make it to the Finish Line. One more mile, just one more mile.

Eight more days, just eight more days.


Blogger Scooter said...

My blog has a story of stupidity and discomfort today. I can't help but think about whether hardheadedness and marathoning are often partners.

10:23:00 AM  
Blogger Vince Hemingson said...

We marathoners are an interesting breed, sometimes, aren't we?

10:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vince, I can't tell you how much I admire the honesty and candour in your writing.

Your willingness to frankly confront and admit and even embrace your moments of weakness and frailty have a degree of purity about them that is inspiring.

You confront your humanity head on. I think it one of your strengths and I hope and pray that you do not think of it as a weakness.

It is the kind of writing that is inspirational, because you allow yourself to be frail and naked and afraid. But you don't allow yourself to be ruled by your fears. Instead you admit you have them and deal with as best as you are able.

I think that takes tremendous courage. And to do it so openly and so publicly is a mark of your integrity and character.

By sharing this with others, you are an inspiration.

We too can imagine having those fears.

We can be encouraged by the fact that despite what you are going through, you find a way to keep going and to find strength.

In doing so, you offer strength to others.

Thank you.

1:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Roxy Roller said...

You can do this Vince.

Of all the people I know, you can do this.

And I hate to say this because it is so tired and cliched, but you will be the better for it.

I don't quite know how or why, but of all the people I know, you have a rare gift for finding a way to make something out of nothing.

I wonder if your chick brigade is still finding you sexy!

11:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Honestly Vince I can't say I have seen this horrible side of you that you keep going on about.

You seem a little more quiet and withdrawn but I guess that is underwstandable.

Are you sure you're not being too hard on yourself?

I am sure your friends and family understand.

I for one appreciate your continued participation in al of our running activities.

Sounds like it will be over soon.

As you said in our last marathon together - You look great! You're almost there!

11:22:00 PM  
Anonymous kelly said...

There will always be a chick brigade that thinks your sexy.

2:35:00 PM  

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