Thankful has a whole new meaning this year.
I'll begin by saying the news that I disclose here today is not all that good. As much as I'd like to call everybody I know individually to tell this story, I just can't make any more of those calls, and I hope you'll go easy on me for doing it this way. Written words are how I roll, as they say, although you'll see in a minute that I could use some new ones.
A little over two weeks ago, everything was fine. I was jamming out to The Who at the Gwinnett Arena with some good friends having a good time.
The next morning I woke up and felt kind of dizzy. I paid it little attention and went about my business.
But the next day the dizziness was still there. And the next. It got worse. Two weeks ago Friday, I got out of my truck at the gas station and prayed the cop I could see inside wouldn't look at me lest he think I was drunk.
Then it got better for a couple of days. Then it worsened again. I finally went to the doctor, thinking I had vertigo. He didn't think so, and he sent me for an MRI and an MRA to see if I'd had a small stroke, but he said he hoped he was just being overly cautious.
Last Friday, I went to another doctor to get the results, with me also hoping the first doctor was being overly cautious, but when the second doc walked in the room, I could tell it was bad. I was absolutely unprepared for the words he said.
"You're not going to want to hear this, but you have a brain tumor."
I don't know that the dictionary has a word for the feeling that comes after hearing that, but its definition would be "the combination of all negative human emotions into one lightning strike to the psyche."
Or something like that.
There was good news -- relatively speaking. It's benign. Again, no words can describe the feeling of hearing it wasn't cancer. It also appears to be very slow growing. The only real physical effects so far are some headaches and in just the past few days I've started carrying a cane sometimes to help keep me upright.
But there are also some challenges. It's large, it's pressing on my brain stem, and it's in a hard location to get to. It sounds like it's going to be some tricky business to treat. As of now, I'm in limbo on the ifs and hows about that.
The week since hearing those words has been, well, I don't know words for that either. Emotional roller coaster gets you about halfway there.
The truth is it's too early for me to know how to describe all this. And I don't have a clue about what's going to happen. But I have learned one very important fact in the past week.
I'm loved. People care. No matter what kind of terribleness the world throws at us human beings, deep down most are decent and good -- the ones I know, at least -- and if the number of people who've offered me their support in the past few days is any indication, I have tons of goodwill on my side. You don't realize how much goodwill helps until it hits you point-blank when you need it most.
By the time you read this Thanksgiving will be over. But for me, the meaning of that word will go on and stick with me. I understand it, fully, for the first time.
I'd be lying if I said I wasn't scared of what my future might hold. But I ride into that future on a wave of love, friendship and kindness of which I'm more appreciative than any word can describe.
I guess "thankful" will have to do.
Email Nate McCullough at email@example.com. His column appears on Fridays. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/natemccullough.