Saturday, April 5, 2014

Hello after a long absence

Somehow, I seem to have forgotten that I have a blog and that maybe people are curious about what I'm thinking about or feeling or doing these days.

Since this is ostensibly about leukemia, we'll start there.  I had a set of labs earlier this week and for the first time in two years, have a normal platelet count and normal white count. Both have been kind of low since my remission and we've just felt it was my marrow protesting how beat up it got. Now, perhaps it is really recovering! I decided to celebrate platelets of 168 by slicing my finger with the bread knife. It did stop bleeding eventually; it was quite deep. I'm glad I didn't do that when my platelets were 2.

The river near my house.

The real thing that made me take my bandaged finger to the keyboard, however, is that my friend, Patrick sent out a poem that really hit me. For reasons I don't want to go into on the internet, my own sadness about my own losses over the years has been active recently and this poem made me cry. I wanted to share it. Maybe it will make you cry too.

For me that feeling of turning downward and not being able to breathe is exactly right. And then somehow you discover that you *can* breathe underwater. I have lived in the well for years at a time in the past and this poem took me back to those times. It was not a welcome trip and I shut my computer and tried to distract myself for several hours.

Not surprisingly, no dice. After nearly fifty years of living with myself, I have come to the point where I recognize that when something affects me like this, I have to return to it. I thought about the coins.

Remember this story from August ? "Recently, it seemed that a patient ['s family] had a turning point after ...[a conversation with me].... They said, "I don't want Sidney to die" and I said, "If loving someone a lot could keep them here, s/he would not die." I'm not quite sure why that was the response I made out of the hundreds of potential responses to their statement...[about not wanting her to die]." It really was a turning point for the patient. It was clear to everyone involved with the patient's care that they were not going to benefit from any aggressive care that our hospital inflicted upon them. I think even the family understood this and yet could not bring themselves to stop the invasive, painful treatments that were happening to their loved one. There really are a hundred things I could have said in response to "I don't want Sidney to die." I had just a second or two to pick the right one.

I love the image of the patient's spouse throwing a coin into the well, it sinking, sinking down and my grabbing it from the bottom and swimming up to him/her to return his/her coin. I've been in the well, all the way to the bottom and am back at the surface. You can jump in the well, sink down and come up alive still, too. I'll show you how. Come swim with me.

May we all swim well.

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