Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Null Process

If you've spent any time around a PC, at some point you've come across the Task Manager. The Task Manager tells you what processes are running on your computer.

You will probably also have noticed a process called the "System Idle Process" which seems to take up an inordinate amount of processing cycles.  The truth is, most modern computers and operating systems *have* to be doing something all the time.  When they have nothing to do, they do the "System Idle Process".

Your brain is pretty much the same.  I call it the 'null process'.  When you are not thinking or processing the task at hand, your brain reverts to the null process.  If you were to come by office at around 4:30 in the afternoon, and I'm staring at my desk with a line of spit running from my chin to the keyboard, that would be the null process in action. 

Everyone has different null processes and in all likelihood they have changed over time.  At age 12 my null process changed from thinking about cartoons, comics, and Star Wars to thinking about other things that occupy a young man's mind...

Actually from age 12 to 25, thinking of vaginas and related accessories (butts, boobs, etc) was pretty much a foreground process the whole time.  At 25, I married my favorite vagi...errr...Linda and the null processes started to lean towards family and career.  How do we get ahead?  Is this the right move?  Should we have kids?  Should we have more kids?  How do we make more money?  Getting started is pretty tough, so the majority of the early years were directed toward my career.

Then, around 35, after establishing myself in my career, I started to realize that we were not only supposed to raise kids, we were supposed to raise 'good' kids.  That required a shift in priorities and my null processes started to flip-flop

and, I think you know where this is going.  On Decemeber 13, 2007,  my process table changed forever

and that's how it stayed for all of 2008. When all you do 24x7 is think about cancer, your mind tends to take you to some pretty dark places.  What's worse, at least in my case, is there was no outlet.  As the caregiver, I couldn't very well burden the caregivee with what I was dealing with.  That's when I started writing about it.  Sure I was still thinking about it *all* the time, but instead of letting my null process take me to those places where my fears and insecurities live,  I instead focused on telling our story and hopefully injecting some much needed humor along the way.

I think 2009 was our way of coping with 2008.  Our stated goal for 2009 was to have as much fun as possible and to make up for 2008.  We surely did, and I have the scars to prove it!  Subconsciously, or maybe consciously, I believe the unstated goal was to keep the null process at bay.  If you are busy doing other stuff, the null process never gets a chance to run.  When the cancer came back in July, we really overclocked ourselves, far beyond the manufacturer's (and definitely the credit card company's) recommended settings.  It really was all cancer, all fun, all the time.

and then, just this past weekend, an interesting thing happened.

It wasn't a huge event, but enough so that I noticed.  I think that is a pretty healthy sign.

My stated goal for 2010 is to devote some active and null processes to my career, which has definitely been a background process for the past 2 years.  Thankfully, I have had more support from my company than anyone could ask for.  2010 calls for a healthy mix of family, fun and career, and who knows, if I play my cards right...


Jude said...

Hahahaha great post John! Now take Linda for a romantic evening in some glorious hotel and go "get some".

kimmy said...

Hi. I came across your blog after a massive bout of hypochondria--I am at high risk for breast cancer due to my family history--and I must say, it is truly inspirational to read how you have dealt (and are still currently dealing) with your wife's cancer. This might not account for much because I'm a total stranger from the other side of the world, but thank you for sharing this. :) It's wonderful how you're able to enjoy the little funny things which, quite frankly, normal people with ordinary lives very rarely seem to appreciate. :)

Anonymous said...

Cured of TNBC!
I want to take this time out as a cancer survivor to encourage women out there still suffering from this with my story on how i got a cure. The sad news about it is that i was diagnosed on my 36th birthday in 2008 and with stage 3 TNBC which after i made research was a very aggressive form of cancer at that point i decided and told myself i was going to die and that the end has finally come. All my life i never thought of having breast cancer because i was very active and i worked out at the gym several times every week and my diet was okay. In my search for a cure after 6 years of diagnosis and even after chemo which i did twice spending thousands of dollars but to no avail, until a church member told me all about Dr Aleta a herbal doctor that specializes in treating TNBC, who could help me with a permanent cure, i doubted this at first but i later gave it a try following her methods and instructions. It took 3 months and after it all i felt normal but still went for diagnosis and i was clean today i am proud to say i am a cancer survivor no nodes and i am totally free the new diagnosis confirmed it. Do not die in silence or ignorance reach her on don't be shy just speak to her today.