Epic Soul Factory – Sigma (extended version)

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the term odyssey as:

  • a long wandering or voyage usually marked by many changes of fortune

  • an intellectual or spiritual wandering or quest

Today and tomorrow I start two odysseys. One I talk about all the time,  my all-consuming quest to claim a national powerlifting record for all of my fellow brothers and sisters living with Parkinson’s and any other neuro-muscular disorder. It’s an undertaking that will test me to the limits of my physical potential. The other is the beginning of a road that every PwP (Person with Parkinson’s) will walk at one time or another: The slow-burning fuse that is the seemingly miracle-like drug Sinamet (Carbidopa-Levodopa). This drug promises life altering levels of relief right from the beginning, with the caveat that it will not last forever and will, in fact, eventually replace those rays of light with more shadows to darken the path. The former will only be made possible by  the latter and the two intertwined will represent a huge change in my life starting tomorrow.

As I write this, my body is coping with the side effects of it’s first two half-doses of Sinamet and my overly-sensitive system is handling them better than I expected, but I am reminded quickly of how powerful this drug is and what it represents. The implications were made clear picking it up from the pharmacist yesterday. I used to work with her a few years ago, and while we don’t know each other well, we’re more familiar than she is with the average customer. She couldn’t hide the fact that she was somewhat sad that I had reached this point in my treatment. She explained that beyond the initial nausea, I would feel remarkably better. So much better in fact, that she warned of the powerful psychological addiction to want to take more, especially when it starts to wear off.

In other words, I’m going to be given a window. While I don’t know exactly how big that window is, (the research I’ve done showing 5 – 10 years being the most likely) the one thing that I do know is that the window will close.  Do not be saddened by this. I’m not. This doesn’t change a thing for me the way I look at it. I don’t have the time to waste on negative emotions like fear, sadness or anger. That’s not to say they’re not there, I just refuse to let them darken the only thing that I truly have and that is this moment.

In about an hour, those dark emotions will fuel me through my training. This training will be the first steps on my other odyssey, the pursuit of which is honestly nearing the limit of my physical potential.  I estimate that I will need to push myself to a maximum deadlift of 675 – 700lbs to have a decent, if very small chance at grabbing that ring for all of us with PD. As it stands now, it has been pushed again to 666lbs by a man here in California. That means there is no interim goal of reclaiming the state record. They are one and the same. In addition to that, with the current record holder residing in California, there is the very real possibility that we could compete in the same meet, meaning I not only have to beat his record but his best lifts of that day as well.

The more the odds stack up against me, the greater the reward becomes. I’m not referring to my name being temporarily at the top of some list on a powerlifting website or getting 1,000 likes on the video I make to celebrate the event. The reward that I’m after is one that’s really worth a true odyssey. My reward is the thought that my actions might lift up a host of unfortunate people who might think that they are hopeless. I aim to be the smith that puts steel in their hands to arm them for their own fight.

In the end, I’m still thankful for this existence. There is a value to this life now that wasn’t there before. Past my time of being an athlete, raising a family, and earning my living, in the second half of my life, I’ve been given the opportunity to truly make an impact on other people that will last long after I’m gone . From that perspective, I  would take this role willingly.

Hope is like the sun, which, as we journey toward it, casts the shadow of our burden behind us.                             – Samuel Smiles