Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Next Year Is Here

My family has a tradition of spending the holidays in the Pocono Mountains with friends from our Brooklyn days. Mariel and Max became friends at playgroup nearly 20 years ago. They're now juniors in college.

A year ago, we didn't make the trip to the house on the lake. I was 3 months post-transplant, and my doctor firmly nixed the idea. "8 people (9) and 2 (3) dogs confined indoors during the winter is a bad idea for you now. You'll go next year."

I always loved when my doctor said things like that because it meant he had faith there was going to be a "next year."

When everyone gets up, we're piling into the van and driving 4-5 hours west to Pennsylvania. We're bringing lobsters and home-made cheesecake. More importantly, we're bringing me.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Sterner Stuff

I've written about this before but it bears repeating, especially as we reflect on the year that's passed and look to the one that lies ahead. People who've battled serious illness tend to have different perspectives and priorities than those who've never faced a deadly health crisis, either personally or via a close family member. If I can "thank" leukemia for anything, it's for teaching me that nearly all our day-to-day concerns do not deserve the weight we give them.

Current economic ills certainly merit our attention, especially when they hit home in the form of losing a job, and possibly the health insurance that came with that job. It's difficult to ignore the dire warnings, bleak reports and personal stories of economic ruin, especially since the media is obsessed with the topic. Certainly, everyone should have a plan should financial disaster strike. I'm as concerned as the next person that my husband may lose his job and we'd be up the proverbial creek.

I'm just having a hard time mustering the fear and panic some seem to be feeling. I suppose that's because I've got bigger fish to fry, as do my fellow travelers on the blood cancer road. (Apologies for that mixed metaphor!) If we're not currently battling disease, we live with the nagging fear it will be back.

Read Ronni Gordon's most recent post on her blog Running for My Life. Check out Ann's Fight and Seattle Times. You'll be amazed by the fighting spirit that shines through on these blogs. I single out Ronni's post because it so poignantly captures the challenges of the struggle and the strength necessary to keep battling. I read Ronni's post last night and thought: what the hell is she made of? Pretty stern stuff.

As we worry about the uncertain economic times ahead (and we all do), keep this in mind: If you lose your job, you can get a new one, maybe not tomorrow or any time soon, but someday. Even if you remain employed but are tailoring your lifestyle to leaner times, it might be unpleasant but you can do it. But you get just one life. Don't waste it obsessing about your job, your stock portfolio (if you're lucky enough to have one), your dwindling dollars. Believe me, there are moments when I have to remind myself of this simple truth.

Sorry for the preach, but you'll thank me someday.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Difference a Year Makes

One year ago, I was holed up at home liberally using hand sanitizer and venturing out into the world only when absolutely necessary, and then, masked and gloved. I was three months post transplant and not about to risk my life holiday shopping. I convinced myself I was one lucky gal to have the perfect excuse to indulge my congenital dyshopnia.

Now that I'm back in the real world, I have no choice but to run around like a madwoman as I sandwich buying forays between work and and other activities. Today I found myself tooling around Target, lost in my usual protective fog. "Patricia," said a woman coming toward me. She identified herself in case I didn't remember her, which was good because I was experiencing one of those I-know-you-but-have-no-idea-from-where moments. It was Kelly, Mark's kindergarten teacher. The odd thing about this is that Mark attended kindergarten in Costa Rica. Kelly's originally from Rhode Island and I'd actually seen her a few years ago at a get-together arranged by the visiting former director of the Costa Rica preschool, but that's another story.

Time flies at warp speed. Kelly's now married and has children of her own; Mark's a senior in high school. Kelly asked after my health and complimented my appearance. I'm used to people expressing shock that I'm not only still standing, but have a full head of hair and actually look pretty good for someone who's been through the medical wringer. I suppose it is pretty amazing.

So, I had a productive morning at work, managed a little shopping without cracking, and am now energetically plotting my next moves. All this on top of going out last night. That's right, we went to a chicken wing competition in Providence at my usual bedtime. Friends of ours who were entered in the wing-off asked us to come and cast our votes. Normally, I'd politely shrug off a Monday night invitation to sit at a bar drinking beer and eating wings, but I decided to push the envelope. If I hadn't gone, I would have missed the disco version of Gordon Lightfoot's "If You Could Read My Mind." Priceless.

It's good to be back.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Leukemia of the Mind

It's possibly a record: I haven't posted here in over two weeks. I could blame Thanksgiving-related activities or the yard clean-up or blogging malaise, but the truth is simpler and better: I have nothing leukemia-related to report.

That's not to say I haven't had neurotic episodes here and there. Last week, I almost convinced myself that leukemia was making a beachhead in my mouth. You don't want to know that the disease can appear in your gums, and I'm not here to tell you this not-so-fun fact. I'll just mention that I noticed a few sores around my gumline and jumped to the worst conclusion possible.

Turns out I had a benign condition called gingivitis. It seems that the free CVS toothpaste I've been using does a poor job with tartar-control. That's what the dental hygenist told me yesterday.

The only leukemia I have right now resides in my hyperactive imagination. And that's where it's staying.