Saturday, April 26, 2014

Hon... I think that's a bear out there

So, this is the last “We're going to Boston” piece; we do leave in less than 12 hours, after all.

We've said our goodbyes and all that remains is to pack the car with stuff we'll both need for the first week and then for Sheri the three weeks I'll be in the hospital. We've even remembered to get keys to our friends who will be staying at the house while we're gone.

The actual transplant process starts on Monday afternoon when I go to Brigham and Women's Hospital to have my central line put in. Then we harvest the sea monkeys (stem cells) and on Saturday I go into the hospital for chemo and the actual reintroduction of stem cells, which is the transplant part.

Of course, all this waiting and finally taking action reminds me of a story.

For some reason, back in the day, I recall a big kerfuffle over what type of person you are when faced with some mildly scary choice, like, say, a sudden noise in the basement. Do you immediately move toward it, determined to solve the mystery, or do you sit back to see what happens.

Why was this a big deal? Who knows. I just remember that it was.

I was always one to charge ahead. I couldn't stand being nervous or scared, so I would set out to find the answer, no matter what it involved. I realize now it was more about control issues than anything else, but that's for another day.

The only time charging into things instead of waiting really became much of a deal was in the summer between my freshman and sophomore years at college when a friend got me a job at a private estate in New York's Adirondack Mountains. About 40 miles back in the woods, it was owned by a fabulously wealthy woman. How wealthy? Well, I was almost fired because I spoke to her before I was spoken to. Not kidding. The stories I could tell.

We were far enough into the wilderness that bears were occasionally a problem; big bears wandering into the estate. Another thing about this place, it was far enough back in the woods that when it got dark, it got dark. Pitch black, unless the moon was shining, otherwise it was starlight only.

One of the women my age and I struck up a romance, which on the night in question found us sitting in a friend's car near some of the estate buildings. I didn't know how to drive and she couldn't drive a manual transmission. But, who cared. We were just there kissin' and huggin'.

As involved in that as we were, we were soon distracted by a scratching noise, followed by what sounded like low growls. Still, kissin' and huggin' continued until the growling and scratching outside got much louder and much closer. Remember I said how dark it as? Well, it eventually got loud enough and close enough that we didn't have to see. It was a bear, and it wanted, in our minds, to open the car like a tin can to get at the Spam inside, us being the Spam.

We locked the doors, because, hey, everyone knows how good bears are with door handles, and clung together. Remember again, neither of us could drive that particular car, so I started to blow the horn. We also did considerable yelling and screaming from inside the car. The bear seemed unimpressed because it started to scratch its way up the driver's side door (mine) and to really go to work on the window.

This is where the whole “what would you do” question popped up. I could sit there and, I guess, wait for help, which, at 65 years old, seems like a pretty OK choice. But at the time I was 18, so I decided to go outside and fight the bear. I figured, at the very least, while I was being mauled, my girlfriend could get away. I'm serious. I find it hard to believe that I could ever been so noble, but I was British after all.

So, I fight the door open and... the bear starts to laugh. I don't mean, like a bear laugh. I mean a human laugh. Seems the guy who was letting us use his car had taken one of the rich lady's priceless bear skin rugs, wrapped himself up in and pulled off this stunt. I was so mad at him, yet so relieved not to be bear Spam, that I just collapsed on top of him.

That wasn't quite end of it, though. We had made so much noise that the rich lady asked our boss what had happened. Oye. We were pretty sure we were all going to get fired, but, somehow, he must have spun a good enough story that we kept out jobs.

It seems fairly natural, then, for the transplant process to remind me of the bear story. Like the bear I thought I was facing, the transplant is big and scary and aggressive, but in the end, I finally get to go toe to toe with it at last. It's been hard, frankly, to sit for weeks and weeks with the doors locked.

As we enter the next bit, my plan is to continue to write as often as I can. I just don't really know how often that will be. Just know that Sheri and I will both do what we can. Also, we are both on Facebook and Sheri will be posting regularly on what's going on.

We will have your prayers and best wishes with us at all times. They have made a big difference to us on this journey and please feel free to continue to add to them. Cheerio for now.

Thank You note: We wanted to thank all of you who have shared and/or donated to the Go Fund Me site our daughters, Alison, Jennifer and Kristie, have established. We're much more used to helping others than being helped, so it's been hard for us to allow even our kids to reach out like this. However, this isn't really the time for pride to guide our decision making. If you would like to see photos of us and our family- and maybe even make a donation :)- visit, and enter my name or Finding the Pony in the search box.

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.”