Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Hope is just a doggie in the window

Here's what was going through my head as I was waking up the other morning: How much is that doggie in the window, the one with the waggly tail, how much is that doggie in the window, I do hope that doggie's for sale.

Yeah. Welcome to my nightmare. If you're a certain age, you doubtless remember Patty Paige's hit version of this song in early 1953, the one that sold over two million copies. If you're of a different certain age, you likely wonder why a song about a dog for sale in a window could ever be a hit record. Well, it was. You can always bring it up when someone older than you is telling you your music is rubbish and how stupid a certain lyric might be. Doggie...in the...window.

As the endless repetition of the song through my head was finally winding down, I was actually left with … hope. Why did that linger when the rest had gone? Beats me. I really don't like thinking too much because odd things like this are often the outcome.

I will say, and maybe it has something to do with all this, since the first day I learned I had cancer, hope has been an essential part of my journey. It has been one constant in an otherwise muddled and sometimes frightening path.

When you're told you have an incurable, but treatable, form of cancer, it wouldn't surprise you to know that you immediately start hoping for the best, right? I mean, it just makes sense. And that's what we did,

Then, as we moved through all the treatments and medicines, hope remained in the foreground. When I was told the initial treatment would be chemotherapy in pill form, it made little sense, given what I knew about cancer. However, given that I knew next to nothing about cancer, it quickly became apparent that that was how it was going to go. I hoped that it would work, obviously, and to a certain extent, it did.

Then came the stem cell transplant. If I knew little about chemotherapy in pill form, I can assure you, I knew even less about a stem cell transplant. What the heck was that deal? Again, it was time to drag hope into the picture and throw it at this procedure and wish for the best. Again, the treatment was quite successful. It was a lot to go through, and involved many moving parts, and arduous days for both myself and my wife Sheri. But in the end, hope had its day and we beat the multiple myeloma back.

But now, it's making a return engagement and we're back to trying to knock it down again. Hope? Yeah, we could us some.

This time though, hope almost seems like it came be one of those four-letter words. You know, the kind you need the upper case keys on a keyboard to be able to use in a family setting: s#*& or … well, you know what I mean.

Maybe it should be spelled h%&*, or h&p*. I'm finding it hard to hope right now, at least in part because I'm not sure what to hope for. Yes, yes, the big picture: knock the myeloma down again, get back into being free of its more obvious effects. Right. Of course. But there's more to all this than that one big picture.

Daily, you need to be able to find things to hang on to, look forward to, feel good about. You have to be able to hope that this afternoon will be better than this morning and this evening will be best of all.

Many mornings, I wake up and find that I feel okay. But, as I get up and start moving through the day, I begin to weaken; to feel sick and/or tired and don't know what to do about it. Hope sort of turns on you and gives you a false sense of what your life is today. At times like that, I suppose giving up would be one thing I could do, but it isn't an option. Lost as I sometimes feel, I need to keep going, bumping into things as I must, even losing heart on occasion.

But, hope is ultimately going to be the tool to use, because, it's limitless in what it can do. The limits I put on it are mine. Just as we never truly knew if the doggie was for sale, although the singer lists a multitude of reasons why she would like to buy the dog, we just have to keep hoping that the outcome will be what we need, rather than what we might want.

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