Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Born under a bad sign?

We've all known people who have had periods where they have had more bad luck than the average bear. Right? Sure, it happens with good luck too, but when has too much good luck ever been an issue?

So, our friend goes along being hit with one misfortune after another and we express the correct amount of sympathy. And it's genuine. We feel bad. During these times, it does feel like our person has suffered more than would seem necessary.

But after a while, doesn't something change in your approach? Come on, you think, no is ever THAT unlucky. Then, unbidden, the word “jinxed” enters the arena. Once that happens, it's only human to want to switch from concerned, sympathetic friend to jinx avoider. I mean, people weren't exactly lined up on the dock waiting for the Ancient Mariner to arrive, were they now?

There's also a subtle shift from our hapless example being a victim of a cruel world to questions about what he did to bring this latest thing on himself. People will support a victim; they want to avoid a jinx.

All this came to mind when I was trying to frame the latest incident that has been added to my list of whoas. One of the things about myeloma that has been made abundantly clear from day one: falling down is bad. Because the disease can cause lesions in my bones, thereby weakening them, it is much better to not fall down and put added strain on them.

Well, after having made it through almost the entire flippin' winter without incident, I fell down not once, not twice but three times last week, within a 12-hour period. Our cellar was flooding with snow runoff, for the second time in a couple of weeks, and Sheri was doing her best to stop it. I just couldn't sit by and watch any more and so I tried to move a 60-pound bag of sand into place to help her. Besides, what could possibly go wrong? Well, as it turned out...

... An incomplete fracture of my right clavicle, terribly painful bruising to my ribs and sternum, and a bump on the back of my head, along with various and sundry other bruises and scratches. The clavicle fracture limits my ability to use my right hand and arm, while the pain in my ribs makes it very hard to take a deep breath, or even a shallow breath at times.

There are longer term consequences as well. I'm supposed to walk with a cane to help me with my balance. I can't use my right hand to pick up anything heavier than a soup can. I'm not supposed to walk and... do anything at the same time. Really. My physician's assistant was almost as serious giving that piece of news as she was in her admonition, repeated at least six times, that I could not fall down again... EVER. I thought about protesting that one since I hadn't planned to fall down even once in the first place. She was giving me very serious eyes, however, and I thought it might be better just to say okay, which I did.

The walking thing, by the way, means no talking on the phone, no texting, no reading the newspaper, no conversations with other people etc., etc. It seems that if I'm going to walk, darn it, I better give it my full attention. Chewing gum and walking at the same time was not specifically excluded, but why take the chance? And I have to practice going up and down stairs. It seems the two chemos I'm taking can interfere with my ability to use stairs.

On top of that, I now have to see a radiology oncologist. In addition to attacking my blood cells, myeloma also causes the aforementioned lesions/holes in my bones. That's how the initial diagnosis was made, through x-rays after I had hurt one of my ribs. The radiology oncologist needs to see if my clavicle had already been weakened by the effects of the myeloma prior to snapping when I fell.

And... in the midst of all this, I had to notify human resources at Maine Today Media, that I would not be returning to work. I guess we all knew that was going to be the case, but now it's official, and it sucks. I really liked working for the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel and I liked the people I worked with. Realistically, though, returning to work hasn't been in the cards for a few months, especially since the stem cell transplant entered the picture.

I've already been away for six months. The lead-up to the transplant would keep me out for weeks, and recovery from the transplant would mean even more months when I couldn't work. The decision itself was easy enough, I guess, but I hated to make it; hated to leave.

But here's something that has occurred to me since I let the company know. Before going to work at MTM, I had been out of work for almost two years. In that time, I interviewed for numerous jobs that I was supremely qualified for but did not get, for a variety of reasons, mostly my age, I believe.

When I interviewed at MTM, I had not worked for a newspaper in 13 years. I had never used the design software they employed and I had always worked on PCs, while they used Macs. I got the job anyway, and I came to believe that there was a reason for that. I have no idea what it was, but I'm just as sure now that there is a reason for leaving the company and moving on to whatever's next; sort of like Mary Poppins or Clint Eastwood's Man With No Name.

I don't know what that next thing might be, but I remain willing and open to whatever it is. Since I'll still be writing my blog, we can take this latest part of the journey together and see how it unfolds.

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.”