Sunday, March 2, 2014

Stages of grief? Seven dwarfs? You decide

I've been thinking about a previous column where I described myself as weepy. Which, of course, got me to thinking about the Seven Dwarfs. (Don't they call them dwarves anymore? Or is that a British thing?) It's the “-y” ending that does it, of course: Sneezy, Sleepy, Bashful-y, Lumpy. I hear you say Lumpy wasn't a dwarf. Well, maybe not in this country my friend, but he certainly was in the Scottish version, though I think they actually call him McLumpy. But I digress.

Each day, concerned people ask me how I'm doing and I usually reply with some variation of “Good days and bad days,” which is true enough, as far as it goes. I try to be as honest as possible, while trying not to bore people with too much detail. I recently realized that I've developed my own equivalent of the Seven Dwarfs to help provide a simple answer to the complex question of how I feel on any given day.

I suppose that put into a particular order, they could also correspond to the Seven Stages of Grief. But let's face it- I'm much more a dwarf kind of guy, hence: Weepy, Grumpy, Happy, Funny, Yucky, Lucky and Perplexed.

I already wrote about Weepy. There are times when I just start weeping. There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to it. I can tell you, though, that on Weepy days I avoid cute emails or Facebook posts featuring cats. Also any recent Budweiser commercials featuring the Clydesdales. Also the Sarah Mclachlan commercial about abused animals.

Sheri and unwanted telephone callers are usually the only ones to run into Grumpy. On days when I really am not doing very well, Sheri is generally the only person I see. So she's the one I snap at or am snarky towards. She doesn't deserve it, but... Interestingly enough, when the strain of watching someone she loves deal with cancer on a daily basis (that would be me) gets to be too much, she will give me some snark back. Good for her.

As far as unwanted telephone callers... Really? I have to explain that?

Most of the time, I choose to be Happy. I don't mean village idiot happy, but simply happy. My wife is very funny, and that helps. My life right now is good, and that helps. Happy can sometimes release endorphins which is a good thing; grumpy never does.

People tell me I'm Funny. They mostly seem to mean funny ha-ha rather than funny odd. When I had a thick accent attending a very tough high school, making people laugh made it harder for the bad guys to beat the snot out of me. Seems it's hard to beat someone up who was made the people around you, even fellow gang members, laugh. I'm just glad it didn't take much to make them laugh: A drunk was in front of a judge. The judge says, "You've been brought here for drinking." The drunk says, "Okay, let's get started." (rim shot)

I still use being funny as a defense mechanism, or so numerous counselors have told me, numerous times. But, as the late Henny Youngman used to say: “A doctor gave a man six months to live. The man couldn't pay his bill, so the doctor gave him another six months.” (rim shot)

I do feel Yucky quite often, truth be told. Given all the medicine I dump into my system each day, plus two types of chemo, plus a bone densifier... I guess it shouldn't come as a surprise that there are times when I feel yucky and/or nauseous.

Given all that has happened, I feel really Lucky to be where I am today. I have a support team second to none and some of the best medical staff in the country looking after me. Back in the earlier days of this blog, I said something about being lucky, but not ready to start quoting from Lou Gehrig's farewell speech at Yankee Stadium. Well, now I am: “You have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.” Amen, brother. I have an incurable form of cancer. I have an extremely rare chromosome disorder and yet I know exactly what Lou Gehrig meant. I wouldn't trade places with anyone in the world.

And yet I remain somewhat Perplexed. It doesn't happen very often, in fact it's rare. But once in a while I do wonder: What happened?!?! Six months ago I was wandering through life where my biggest care was the new system I was going to have to learn at the Kennebec Journal/Morning Sentinel. Now I have two extremely rare health conditions, a wobbly prognosis, and facing a stem cell transplant. Whaaat?

One Sunday morning back in the day, my daughter Alison (age 3 or 4?) and I were watching a terrible Czechoslovakian version of You Know Who and the Seven Dwarfs. I didn't think she was paying much attention. Then six of the dwarfs fell down a hole and Alison nonchalantly said, “Oh well. I guess it's Snow White and the One Dorf.” Her lack of concern for the other six “dorfs” was actually a little chilling.

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.”