H.G. Wells did it. Sam Beckett did it. Bill and Ted did it. Superman had to do it for Lois. Even Bart Simpson has done it. Time travel. All had the desire to go back into time to either research or alter time. Each had their own mode for making the journey – an actual time travel machine, Ziggy the computer, a phone booth, a cape, and as a parody of “Back To The Future,” a DeLorean complete with Christopher Lloyd.
The concept is simple. Go back in time. Fix what needs to be corrected. Come back to the future. Of all the time travelling media, Sam Beckett in Quantum Leap was my favorite. You see, when you change the past, you change the present and the future. Beckett had to be careful so that he only changed the history of the person he was sent to help. And there were times when it was extremely personal for him, like saving his wife, or even stopping this project which he found out eventually was much bigger than the invention that he created.
There is a different way to change history though, without going back through time. We do it as children, and we often live through it as adults. We study history. The idea of studying history in one aspect, is to not repeat it. Wars. Space Shuttle disasters. Tough economical times. Medical crisis. We study the examples so that we learn from them, and do not repeat them.
When we are born, our path is set. There is a natural progression to aging, infancy to toddler, toddler through child, child into puberty, then to adulthood, and senior status. And there are things that we know, are likely to happen to our bodies as we get older and our bodies get tired. But just as travelling back into history to “fix” something, for me personally, the cancer diagnosis being the time traveller, forever changed my present and future. There are bad things that came of it, but there are also good things that came of it.
For example, when I went through the radiation treatments, there were some things that were known that could happen as a result (called a side effect), but there was so much that was unknown. Of course I knew what could happen. Mr. McGee could make me very angry and I would go through my wardrobe very quickly not to mention look like I belonged on a can of vegetables (Incredible Hulk reference for those that need it). Well, I did get a lot of radiation, too much in fact. At the time, it was what worked, that is all researchers knew. In today’s treatments, doctors know that they can use much less and by that, I mean ALOT less and have just the same effect or better.
So as I said, I received too much radiation, amounting to four times the lifetime allowance of exposure. There are many who work at nuclear power plants that are not exposed to what myself and others were exposed to. The sad thing, I know plenty more people who were treated with much more radiation and different types, like Cobalt. We have all been told as children that radiation is bad – “don’t stand too close to the TV”, “don’t stand in front of the microwave”, “cell phones cause brain cancer.” Not only does it treat cancer, and cure cancer, but it can cause cancer. That is why if you are smart and able, you put sunscreen on your body.
Well, just like on the outside, when you get sunburned, with radiation treatments like I received, the burns were on the inside as well. To my knowledge, it is something that I will always have. So the radiation and chemotherapy start doing damage to my body, inside and out, which gradually gets worse over the years. To understand, if you drive a car that has one tire that is not inflated properly, do you think that will affect the other tires? The overall performance of the car?
As it is, that I believe about my body. With the first lymph node that was removed and biopsied, so my body had to adjust. With the staging laparotomy, my spleen was removed leaving my body challenged forever against infections and contagions. When my heart bypass surgery was complete, blood was flowing at the rate once done before, my body parts not used to. The list goes on. My body’s natural physiology was changed back in 1988. As far as I am concerned, everything that is happening to me today, is because of the things that happened from that time on. And so far, this has been confirmed.
So given the chance, would I go back in time? Knowing what I know now, would I take the opportunity to change my mind to any of the procedures, or even to allow the doctors to treat me? Given the two choices that I had, death or most likely cure, how would today be different for me today?
Hodgkin’s Disease has been one of the more curable forms of cancer for decades. Treatments have gotten better, safer. But would I have had that much time to wait decades for a cure that would not have had the impact on my health today? I have two very very good reasons to not even entertain that option.
All I can do now, is make sure that any more decisions do not give me cause to want to go back in time to correct a regret. Then again, what if I already had gone back in time? What if…