Saturday, May 21, 2016

Life can be Messy

Actually I should have said “life IS messy”.    I think we all know that whatever your life is today,  it will not stay the same.  If things are not going well there is a good chance they will get better.  If things are going great, it’s likely you will face some bumps in the road in the future.   The problem for most of us is that we plan around where we are today and extrapolate it into the future.   I love this quote from Allen Saunders “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”.

 That was certainly the case for me.  I was busy training for a marathon goal I’d been planning for 10 years, working through the integration of the company post its acquisition, exploring options for my next career opportunity, and awaiting the arrival of two new grand babies and planning out visits to spend time with them.  Nowhere in my plans was getting sick and certainly not a disease that would put my entire life on hold and scramble all my plans.   The thing is, at my age I’ve gotten use to facing bumps in the road, like maybe an injury that gets in the way of running, or maybe a missed career opportunity.   But scrambling everything all at once is not a bump, it’s more like falling off a cliff.

What’s interesting, once you hit bottom and get over the shock and disappointment of the end of your well laid plans, is you have a clean slate for developing all new plans.  Granted, much of what you plan around may be short term and out of your control, like making it through a single day, or that next transfusion, chemo treatment, or bone marrow biopsy.   But there is also time to do the things you typically don’t get to when you are busy with life plans, like reconnecting with friends and getting more involved with your family’s lives and thinking more about what is really important.     I think Tim McGraw sums it up nicely in his song “Live like you are dying”

And I loved deeper
And I spoke sweeter
And I gave forgiveness I'd been denyin'

This last weekend I got to see all my children, no small feat given they are spread all over the country and have very busy lives.  Equally important I got to hold and play with my two new grandchildren…one of them for the first time.   There is nothing like holding a new born to bring you a sense of peace.  For a small period of time the rest of the world disappears and it’s just you making a fool out of yourself talking baby talk and making funny noises (and not caring a lick what you look like).  It is also a huge motivation to fight to see them grow up and to be there for the big events in their lives. 

 No question that I live more in the moment these days but if you tend to be an optimist (and I am) you can’t help but look at what you are going to do when you beat the disease.   I have a whole new set of priorities and goals driving my plans.  And like most people, I’m building my plans assuming I know where I’ll be in a year+.  The difference may be that I know my plans are no plans at all but really wishes and are subject to change at any moment.  

Enough with the philosophy…a negative outcome of too much introspective time…on to the update on my progress.  As I type this I am back in the hospital for round 2 of chemo.  Three plus days of 6 treatments each 3-4 hours.   We made it through the first round in respectable shape.  In the three weeks recovering from the first round we needed several blood transfusions and numerous platelet transfusions but we didn’t spike any fevers (the critical post chemo symptom).    We did have flare up in the wounds in my back and some mouth sores as a result hitting the nadir when the chemo has destroyed all my infection fighting white blood cells.   We were able to get it under control in a couple of days with some heavy duty antibiotics and a bunch of TLC from Pam.    Appetite came back within a week after the chemo and I managed to gain back some of the weight I’d lost.  Been swinging between 10-15 lbs. over the course of the 4 weeks.  Was down to my high school weight at one point.  Hell of a diet program but not one I would recommend.    Fatigue is also one of the big issues.  Still getting in my few miles walking every day but I can nod out in the middle of a conversation some afternoons.  Of course I remember some meetings in my work history that were so boring I did the same.  Sleeping at night has improved once I got off the steroids but still can’t sleep through the night. 

All in all I’m holding up well.  They tell me to be prepared that the effects of the chemo will get worst with each successive treatment.  So far this round it has mostly hit me in the stomach and digestive system.   And least I forget…chemo brain.   It’s an inability to concentrate at times, a fogginess of the brain and of course big time forgetfulness.   I can walk into a room and forget why I’m there.  People my age tell me they do that all the time.  But I can take it to another level…I’m in the wrong room.  More on this next week.

 Till then, thank you for all the messages of support.  They are a big help for both Pam and I.
God bless.


Karen said...

Hi Dave,

Your story is inspiring. And your talent at narrating your own story is fantastic. Maybe after you get though this you will consider writing a book? I am so impressed with this latest blog about your new philosophy on living and planning the future, I am going to copy and send it to a few friends who are now going through similar experiences - or have been through them recently.

Thank you for sharing all your thoughts. Thinking of you and Pam and all you are going through together, Karen and Mike

Michael Muhlfelder said...

Life IS messy and somehow you do seem to be finding order in the chaos. You have so many motivations and being part of the ongoing lives of your children and grandchildren seems to be putting a smile on your face that comes through in your report. Keep swinging Dave!

Edmund X. DeJesus said...

I'm so glad to hear you're looking forward to what's next WHEN you beat this and get your life back again. Praying for continued success for your treatments, and stamina for you as you go through it. A different kind of marathon...

Ed DeJesus