Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The rise and fall of Ammon Perkes

per·spec·tive /pərˈspektiv/  
noun - The nagging voice that reminds you that other people have it much worse, and that you should stop whining and get back to productive things; your minor injury doesn't make you a victim. 

Last Tuesday marked the end of a two month run of almost uninterrupted happiness and excitement, a veritable jubilee of wonderful things.  The climax of all that, I suppose, was the news on Tuesday that I had been accepted to The University of Pennsylvania for grad school.  That morning I had left Philadelphia to beautiful weather after a wonderful visit to Penn for interviews, tours, presentations, and meet and greets with professors and graduate students.  Until I got to Penn's campus I had some doubts: Philly is a little grungy, and it was cold and a bit unwelcoming in general.  But the program itself was great, and I would love to be a part of it.  

It's my birthday present to me, I'm so happy!
Monday night, rather than grab drinks with the other students (not really my scene), I took the train out to a climbing gym on the east side of Philly, in this cool, old brick warehouse that looked from the outside like the sort of place you might get murdered.  Inside it was lovely and the nice girl at the counter let me in for free, since it was my first time and I was just visiting.  That was even before she found out that that was my birthday. 

Ammon & Shauna, circa 2 weeks ago
A week earlier I found out that I had received my ORCA grant, which is $1500 cash given to undergraduates for their research, which should help keep me from graduating into abject poverty.  

All this was while I had started dating a girl for the first time in what seems like a long long time.  I'll probably talk more about that in some other post, but her name is Shauna, she's lots of fun and has made this whole semester rather wonderful. We had a great party on friday with all my friends, and a piñata, and thursday Shauna surprised me with a rented puppy (yes, it's a silly place, I've just come to terms with that.  Puppies are great).  Add to that all the amazing adventures I've had with climbing and school and life, and this semester has been unreasonably good, to the point that I was starting to feel a bit uneasy with how many good things were happening, because surely life had to catch up to me at some point.  It certainly did its best. 

Stewart falls, i.e., other adventures
At my soccer game on tuesday our goalie was feeling a bit under the weather, and rather than risk losing on account of him not being able to focus and jump about, I figured I would just play goalie.  This might have been a mistake in retrospect, both because I suspect I might have been able to stop more goals while playing defense, and because it resulted in kidney trauma. 

A kid got a bit of a breakaway and I was running towards him.  I want to say I got to the ball first, but he basically plowed through me, got the ball and scored.  I yelled, because it was clearly a foul, and the ref called it.  But about three seconds later the pain hit me and I had to sub out.  It was more or less overwhelming–to the point that I couldn't really think about who should replace me or what, I just got out and lay on the sideline, where I stayed for the next hour or so, long after we had lost the game 2-1 and turned out the lights in the facility, which was actually quite nice, since they were incredibly irritating anyway.

Eventually I managed to stand and make it home, but the pain wasn't getting any better, and near midnight my roommate and Shauna took me to the ER.  At this point I just wanted pain killers, and each question they asked became more and more irritating ("No I don't have allergies to medication, what sort of an idiot question is that? Just put morphine in me now.").  They ran a CT scan and seemed pretty concerned–actually, that's not entirely true.  They seemed incredibly calm and nonchalant, but they were quickly doing lots of things–and surgery seemed like a fairly likely outcome.  Happily the results came back and my kidney had stopped bleeding (it had been bleeding).  

The next day was rough.  I couldn't keep anything down, I was in a lot of pain, and lying around all day doesn't suit me, but I could barely walk to the bathroom, so it was a bit of a necessity.  Since then the pain has gone down, my appetite has come back, and I can walk all the way to campus like a tired old man.  Lying around still doesn't suit me.  
Right now I'm recovering, I'm not allowed to do anything more active than walking for another two weeks
(not that I feel capable of anything active right now anyway) and then the Urologist is going to decide what needs to happen.  There were some other problems with my kidney, some related, some not, and so I might end up having surgery, but we'll cross that scary, painful bridge when we come to it.  In the mean time I'm gaining a great appreciation for baths, cheerios, the ability to move and function normally, and friends who care about me, not to mention a girlfriend who is willing to take care about me when I feel like I'm dying (and a roommate who did great when she wasn't around). 

Did you know that Where the Wild Things Are employs chiastic structure?
So does stuffed french toast.
So I'm still fairly content with my life, there are much worse things that can happen than being out of commission for a few weeks, and as a whole life continues to be wonderful.  My children's book book club has gained some momentum and is a lot of fun (this last week we discussed Winnie the Pooh. I'm fairly sure I could find existential, meta-fiction in anything as long as I'm in the right mood.), and it looks like I will be going to grad school.  (Penn seems most likely at this point. Although Berkeley and Harvard are not technically impossible, I suspect I would have heard from them by now.)  I'm sure I'll have all sorts of time to reflect and write profound blog posts during my convalescence, since the number of other things I'm able to do is at an all time low.  But I'm often reminded that other people have it worse off, so I'll keep my griping to a minimum.  

Onwards and upwards.  

I'm sure someday I'll make some analogy with climbing and falling
and the role of ropes and quick-draws.
In the mean time, check out how cool this picture is!