Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Maintenance Work

I'm not afraid of an ultrasound. My wife got about nine thousand ultrasounds while she was pregnant with Oliver, and I was there for most of them. That's not the problem.

A few weeks ago, I started having some weird pain in my back. At least, I thought it was my back. I would do something and it would twinge and I would think, well, it's a pulled muscle or a pinched nerve.

Last week, that changed. The pain wouldn't just come when I turned the wrong way. It was constant. And then one day - this was an awful moment - I was sitting at the same chair I'm in right now, in our home office. My wife and son were both there. I think I turned my head. And then, suddenly, the worst pain of my life erupted. Screaming, teeth-gritting pain, the kind where you have trouble breathing and you want to start pounding your fists on something just to make it stop. It was horrible.

I went to see a doctor a few hours, and he suggested that I had kidney stones.

Kidney stones. They just sound quaint, don't they? Like an old man's disease. Like liver spots. I realize, as I write this, that I had a friend in college who had kidney stones. But still, when I think about it, it sounds like a geriatric illness. I know how wrong that sounds, but that's the way my brain works. I can't help it.

And so, I'm having an ultrasound today to look at my kidneys. If the stone is serious and won't pass on its own, that might require laparoscopic surgery. I've never had surgery in my life. I'm only a little apprehensive of that.

Now, by itself, that would be something of note. But I'm also getting a root canal next week. And shortly after that, I'm having my wisdom teeth extracted, including the wisdom tooth that has been causing me great pain for the past several months. the pain in my teeth and jaw was what convinced me to call a dentist in the first place, and that was the first time I'd contacted a dentist in three years.

So, two major health issues in the course of a few weeks. Neither of them is life-threatening. I'm not going to die from a kidney stone or from a sore tooth. But still, all the procedures and appointments and phone calls feel strange, lined up after one another like confused little dominos. It feels like something is happening.

It could be that my body is falling apart, the consequence of getting old. I'm in my early forties, and it's possible that this is just what happens to people of my age.

Better. Stronger. Faster.
Or it could be a tune-up. It could be that I'm taking care of all of these weird aches and pains because my body is finally saying enough. It's time to stop living with annoying little aches and irritations and get myself fully back on course. So I'm getting my teeth fixed. And I'm getting my kidneys examined. And this summer, I'm going to drop the twenty pounds that I lost and then regained over the course of last year. I'm getting this body back in shape. It's time for some maintenance.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Which is which?

I've slowed down on this blog, and here's why.

I have two different identities. I have my own name, my own identity, online. I'm on Twitter and on Facebook and on myriad other websites, using my given name. I have hundreds of friends IRL - in real life - and hundreds of online connections.

And then there's this identity. This version of me: this identity that I have constructed over eight years, before I had a son. Before Facebook. Before Twitter. Waaaay before Pinterest. My online identity has existed since 2004. I've written about politics, about music, about my family, about popular culture, and a bunch of other things.

And now, I write on Twitter and Facebook and in other places about pop culture, and music, and my family.

See the problem?

So I've had to reassess, constantly, which version of me will exist on this blog. The more I share under my name, the less material I have left for the blog. It sounds odd, but there it is. And the other thing is that I find it somewhat comforting to be able to write under my actual name. I enjoy seeing that there are people who have known me (and met me, and worked with me) who stay in touch with me online.

Every person is a brand now. Every person markets himself and herself with everything they say, everything they tweet, every comment they leave on a blog. And so now I have two brands. It can be a bit confusing at times.

Some people know me on both sides, under both names. A few people. I say things here that I can't say under my own name. Mostly about my employers. (And interestingly, I find that my Twitter stream is mostly used for profane messages about Seattle traffic.)

So there will be things I talk about on both sides. Here, I'm going to talk about my son. My son has been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, and I'm going to talk more about in the months and years to come. It's important. And I can be more candid on this blog than I can under my own identity.

It's important for me to talk about it here because some of you have known me for years and years. I know a few of you used to read this blog back when it was a Salon blog. I have longtime readers - I suppose I could say you're friends, at this point.

I'm still going to talk about my son's diagnosis under my real name. But I can be more honest here, more unguarded. I can talk more about my own challenges, my doubts, the struggles.

In both of my identities, I am a political animal. I am a writer. I am a dedicated husband. And I am the father of a boy who has Asperger's Syndrome. Whoever I am, these are the things that will never change.