Haven't shared what was going with me in a while here. I seem to mainly find time to do it when I am on holidays at home. So, out of my childhood room, I give you my last 6 months of living.
I was doing good, really good. Found my way back to Karate, was climbing in between, staying active as a way to manage the stress that is building up in my last year of PhD. And then it happened, I misplaced my foot during sparring, my ankle twisted, and then my knee followed. I heard it. I never thought that I would hear it. The pain was instant. Fast forward by a week of swollen joints and not knowing what is up, my ACL ripped. And that just before summer/festival season. It felt like this started a process of extreme ups and downs that went on until last wednesday. I decided to still go to the burn I wanted to do go. Twisted my unstable knee twice there, didn't care, had surgery in august. Felt like a vegetable for 3-4 weeks. Been recovering well. Twisted my knee again, worried that it ripped again, still don't know if it is fine but doctor says it feels okay, probably not ripped. I figure, either case, I need to get my muscles back, focus on physio and training my legs with the hope that all is fine.
Apart from my knee. I have had stomach troubles for a while and I couldn't quite figure it out. I still don't know exactly, but it seems to be connected with milk products. When I leave them out, reduce my meat/fat intake, eat more salad, my stomach is more happy. Maybe I should listen to my body. Chances are I became lactose intolerant with age? Wasn't sure this could happen. Heard some anecdotes from people where it happened to them during some stressful periods.
Its the last sprint, my friends. After having my last thesis advisory committee meeting I was told to wrap it up until June next year. Problem is, the main results of the thesis are just being uncovered now. Hypothesis that I have been following for the past year (and my boss believing/betting on for at least that long) are turning out to be false. I am accepting it and looking for other solutions, my boss is not. This lead to one of my hardest progress reports last week. It felt like going into cognitive war with someone who was waaaay too lucky in his career. I felt sick and even more disillusioned by scientists afterwards. How can you claim that you are doing hypothesis driven science and then no accept the results of all the experiments that have been done? Bottom line, he wants to have a look at my raw data of two years of experiments because he doesn'T understand my simple analysis of calcium signals. Funny thing is, all that happened just 30 minutes after he declared in front of the whole group that he is giving me a 1000€ bonus for all the things I do for the lab. Not exactly "carrot and stick" but it felt like it, somehow.
Anyway, it seems like its time to fire the engines up to 120% and bulldoze through the next months. I am not sure what I am going to do afterwards. I promised myself that I won't stay in science unless I am going something that I am really passionate about. So I have been looking for labs that work on the claustrum as I am still obsessed with the neuroscience of psychedelics. I have made positive contact with one PI in the UK where I have a feeling that I could learn something. There is another one in Jerusalem that I have to yet contact...
On the 12.10., is my fathers birthday. On the 12.10.2019, at 10 in the morning, while frying some breakfast eggs, my father had a sudden cardiac death. Luckily, my mother and grandma were home. They heard a noise in the kitchen, found him, and my mother started to reanimate while my grandma ran out to the street to catch the ambulance that was on its way (because we don't have addresses). After 10 minutes of reanimation, a guy on a motorcycle arrived with a defibrillator kit. They introduced those mobile units because of the crazy traffic situation in Israel. The streets are always packed and people don't know how to open up a rescue alley. He gave my father a shock, got his pulse back. Lost it again, shocked him again. Went like this for another 3 times. 10 minutes after the mobile unit, the ambulance arrived and took him to the hospital. Overall, it took 45 minutes from the moment my mother called until he was at the hospital.
When my mother called, around 12 am, I was having late breakfast and planning to call my father to wish him a happy birthday. I was surprised to be called by my mother and sister at the same time, instead. I instantly felt something was wrong. I picked up and listened to my crying mother. My mind went cold and analytic. I remember asking he for the details and time it took for things to evolve. My medical studies popped up again, remembering that 3 minutes without air could already start the brain damage. In my head, I thought him dead. And then the sadness kicked in and I was in agony. She told me that they had to do two stents and put him in hypothermia to help reduce the damage. So he was in a coma, without us able to say whether he will wake up, or not.
There was only one reflex, find a flight and head back home. This is also when I realised that I am not prepared for such an emergency. Dishing out 1000€ for a flight ticket is not something my PhD finances could handle so lightly. But that is another issue. I found a flight for next day in the morning. Already at the german airport, my mom called me to tell me that he woke up. Completely confused, but seems to still have many of his normal function.
Fast forward a few hours. I am standing in his room in the hospital, in shock. My father had a memory span of 3 minutes. I had no clue what to feel in that moment. Relief that he is alive and survived? Worry for how his life will continue if this is how he states? My irrational mind was in control and it seemed to block out all the things I learned about post-operative symptoms and delirium because boy, the next week was one hell of a ride.
During the following week, he had to do another two stents (correct a previous one, and open another one). This was all too surprising to us. My father is a thin and rather healthy-looking guy. How could it be that 2/3 of his heart wasn't being perfused? Simple answer, 35 years of cigarettes. Delirium does weird things with you. You can't really sleep as you wake up every 5-10 minutes throughout the night. You forget all kinds of shit which leads to repeating all kind of stuff. You do weird things like ordering 3 skinned rabbits from 3 people at 6 A.M. which I had to drive around town to collect. Or, broadcast funny pictures of your 75-year old sister (who lost her husband a year ago) you took with your newly discovered gender swap filter on snapchat, with the purpose to find her a new husband (why did we give him his phone back???).
This was of course all also mixed with blaming us. We, my sister, my mother, and I are the reason this happened to him. Because we are not close to him and studying in Germany. Because my mother is "driving me crazy", which means, translated, she does not follow his orders. And that after her being the only reason he is still alive.
It was a hard week. And a hard month afterwards (specially for my mom). But now, just 2 months afterwards, he seems fine. He had to get another stent to open up that last missing branch. He is taking his meds. He quit smoking. He is less aggressive (seems like it at least). He hasn't been to work yet, which is good. But something changed. We are all scared that this could happen at any instant now, again.
I realise, now that I wrote that word above, that my stomach starts to hurt and I am hitting a mental roadblock in my head that is trying to stop me from writing or dealing with what happened. Do I listen to my body/mind or are the misaligned?
Anyway. In July, just before the ACL surgery and the burn, I met a cool girl. She was fun, shared many of my hobbies, is an Imogen Heap fan, liked raving, eating, and binging TV shows. I got interested. It felt nice. So things developed. And we got to know each other better. Our good corners, our weird corners. All of that in parallel to me being strapped to a bed most of the time without the ability to do much because of my leg. But it was a nice time. However, at some points past the first month or 1.5 months since we started dating, I started to get weird thoughts. I caught myself worrying about the problems the future will bring more often than enjoying the current time with her. My plans were to finish the PhD and leave. And now I am heading towards a relationship with a 34 year old woman (5 years older than me) that is feeling good but I know that if I commit full on to this, I will not be able to leave. I talked to her and told her what was in my mind. She said we should stay in the present and not worry about the future. This silenced the voices in my head for a little. But rather, it made them quieter for a while, because they came back, and started to get louder and louder.
The following two months, I caught myself constantly switching between the worry about the future and questioning the relationship and enjoying the time with her. She was caring and lowing. She showered me with love and I could feel it in everything she did. And it felt good to be loved like this. But I also realised, that I am not giving her or will probably never hive her that love back. In any form. There was a moment where I "snapped out" of it and know that I am not in love. Not in the way that she is looking at me and it made me feel very guilty. To cut a long process short, at one evening, where I was again trapped in the "being here and being there" feeling, I decided to let loose of all the thoughts I had jumbled up in my head, with the hope that some clarity will crystallise out of it. It ended up to be the night we broke up. And that was not my plan. But it was inevitable, at least in my view. This was 3 weeks ago. And it was hard. It was hard seeing her hurt. Hard letting go of someone that loved me this much. But I saw no other way. Doubt and sadness mixed with feelings of relief. Did I do the right thing? Did I just throw away something that I will regret in the future? Was I chasing something that doesn't exist?
The thing is. I know how I feel when I am madly in love. I had that same thing happen to me a year ago. Back then, the situation was switched. But I remember, that in that state of mind, nothing was impossible. Whenever I looked into the future, I saw solutions. Whether it was the "jew dating arab" problem, or, the geographical situation, or, money... Nothing was a problem. But now, I only saw the problems. Which hinted me that I am in no way close to feeling the same way I felt last year.
Even though I went a long way from being emotional popsicle that I made myself become in highschool, I am no way close to being emotionally open or understanding my emotions. And this whole story is again an example of that. Whenever I have a hand-written letter in my mailbox, it is never a nice one. This time it was also no exception. One day before my flight home, I get a looong letter from her and all I read was pain and sadness. And it hurt me a lot. It pains me to see the damage I did, again. And I wonder if there will be a time where I will not do this damage anymore...