Wednesday, January 22, 2014

It's my party and I'll cry if I want to

It's my party and I'll cry if I want to

Cry if I want to, cry if I want to

You would cry too if it happened to you

Leslie Gore

Anger. It's always been part of my emotional mix, but this week it really got out of its cage and did it's version of the happy dance in my head.

Angry at what? Duh.

Angry at who? Pointless question.

The only “who” would be fate, the cosmos, or in my case, God.. But that's the same God who directed me to the Alfond Clinic, and ultimately to the Dana-Farber Institute who not only are aware of chromosome deletion 17p but employ the most successful method of reducing its impact on stem cell transplants. So... maybe God, but not in the long run.

I guess it was “one more thing” that really set the whole thing off.

The day after I found out about the chromosome issue, while I was still trying to process just how life-threatening that could be, I started to feel like I was coming down with something. Sheri was still staying with our friend so that I didn't catch what she had, so I was able to tell myself it wasn't that bad.

Yeah. Well, she came home on Saturday, and that was the end of that particular string of denial. I had actually gotten quite a bit sicker, so it didn't take much convincing to call my oncologist at Alfond. He told me the best thing to do would be to go to the emergency room and find out what it was and then we could decide what to do next.

So, Sheri and I spent Saturday afternoon in the emergency room getting blood work, x rays, and generally poked and prodded. Well, I got poked, prodded etc. Sheri provided the essential support. I must confess, after recent events, I half expected to be told that I had something only three other people in the country had, and they all lived in Iowa. I was a little wary. Sue me.

Well, the PA came in and told us I had “Influenza A.” He said it with such flourish that it took a couple of minutes for me to realize that he was talking about a specific strain of flu. So many things present themselves as flu, that aren't, it was his way of saying that what I had was the real deal.

Influenza A sucks. It sucks bad. It put me flat on my back with a cough and congestion I haven't suffered in a long time. There was also the feeling that Sheri being gone for the week had been a waste of time. I have no idea where I picked this up, it could have been anywhere. I started wearing a mask in public on Friday, which as Sheri said, might have been one day too late.

As I lay in bed, feeling crappy, with little else to do, my anger had free range. The flu?!?!? Are you kidding me right now? We're still dealing with the fact that you have a chromosome abnormality that is a game changer, and you can't even finish dealing with that because your brain is mush from the flu. I made a decision: time to play the “not fair” card.

And that's what I did, at least in my head. It just seemed like a bridge too far to ask me to deal with all I had to deal with... and the flu. The flu really pounded my system and made everything seem worse. It just didn't seem fair.

Now, that thought string runs counter to everything I believe; everything I have written here before. But I guess when you're in a life or death struggle with your own body, momentary lapses are to be expected.

As the flu made its way back to whatever hell it came from, my anger started to recede as well. I don't apologize for it nor for playing the “not fair” card. It's my party and I'll cry if want to.

Leave it to my wife, though, to put it all in perspective, without even trying. At the height of my feeling crappy, and at my most demanding, Sheri was walking into the kitchen with her back to me and I found myself saying, “Hey. I have influenza A!” Without so much as turning around she said, “Yeah and when I had it, it was influenza A plus... can I get you a glass of water?”

Wow. Right-sized and an offer of refreshments. Sheri and I are in this fight together, and have been from the start. We have the support of our daughters, friends and an excellent medical team. It kinda turns “one more thing” into an urban myth. There's no such thing. With time to process, we can see that thought as the crap it truly is. All there is is the next thing. We just need to stay as ready for it as we can.

Poop happens, and sometimes it happens to you. That remains the truth of it, sisters and brothers. Poop happens and sometimes it happens to you.

There are a variety of versions of the story that gives this blog its name. The pony is the constant in all of them. A man is on his way to a party when he comes across a young boy shoveling ass over tea kettle at an enormous mountain of manure. The man asks the child if he wouldn't rather go with him to the party than shovel all that poop. The kid says, “No way man. With all that poop... there must be a pony in there somewhere.”