The Definition of Me

When I moved to the US 25 years ago, one of the things the struck me with the culture is people’s need to know what you did for a living. They would meet you, and immediately ask what type of work you did. I realized with time, that no matter what, the purpose of that question was to categorize you. Depending on the type of work you did, people would know whether or not you were In their league, or if you were above it, so that they could get into yours.

I have also noticed that people are different towards you when they know that you have a condition or two. You are instantly categorized by the known symptoms of that condition. I have pulmonary and cardiac sarcoidosis, heart failure, a leaking PFO closure, an implanted defibrillator and pulmonary hypertension. Put the symptoms of all those conditions into one package and you expect someone who is dead or on the verge of death. That’s why I am a source of intrigue to the medical professionals. And because I don’t fit that mold, it only goes to prove that I am not the sum of my conditions.

I am the man who enjoys going for walks in the park, for long drives in the country, and strolls on the beach at sunset. I am the man who enjoys eating a small cup of gelato at the beach on a cold winter’s day. I am the man who enjoys a Starbucks grande decaf soy sugar-free vanilla frapuccino in the afternoon. I am the man who hates when people ask what I do for a living. I am the man who hates push button faucets in public bathrooms that only run for 5 seconds. What I do for a living and the sum of my conditions do not define who I am, but how I get back up after a fall is what defines me. I am that man who refuses to be defined by my conditions. I am me.

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