Monday, August 24, 2009

holy distractions and sacred present-mindedness

"It's the wrong trousers, Gromit, and they've gone wrong!" - Wallace & Gromit.

The photo of luscious blood sugar annihilators is from some bikkie shop in Scotland. I was en route to the Isle of Iona in 2006, where I thought I'd find Christological paradise and instead roiled in disillusionment and depression.

I could have left. I'd committed to 10 weeks slavery, I mean service as a volunteer. "But I keep my agreements...." I whined in neo-martyrdom as the first days showed me that I'd been sorely mistaken. It was nothing I had hoped and been led to believe it was, this place. Surly the problem was ME and that if I just kept on keeping on and praying even more, everything would be alright!

I had a choice. I abdicated that and suffered.

Today I meet with a potentially new oncologist. I am sure deep down to my quirky bones that he is indeed a very very nice man. He came recommended as someone with a caring demeanor. However my standards have changed markedly from a terrified woman shuffling through the gaping doors of hospital prison to one who is prayerfully making her own choices as best she can. I am not looking for a physician as my only recourse to show me how to make it through the MDS-AML gauntlet alive and - let's go for broke here - well. I want an ally in the holy work of healing where "no guarantees" is an undercurrent. When I bring up the concepts of alternative and holistic, will he lean forward with curious eyes or will I get that bubba stare that barely veils smug? If we even get PAST that part of the meet-and-greet game, how will he respond when I ask him how many people has he treated with my particular collection of bits.... and what happened? Who lived and who died? AML out of MDS is another ball game to de novo AML. That one's bad enough.

My problem with seeing conventional physicians is that I am terrified. I know that Christ is King. I know that if I breathe in and breathe out, I'll feel better, even though I'd rather raid the nearest bikkie shop and put full face into the trough of sugary brain escapes. I know that YOU are praying for me! I am hearing one of the Chancel Choir anthems..... "This is the day which the Lord hath made, I will rejoice and be glad in it, be glad in it."

This nice doctor isn't even going to DO anything to me today - no bone marrow biopsy lurks. I will get a blood draw, which I haven't had in a rather naughty two months. I feel SO GOOD. Will the counts reflect that or no? What is scarier, facing my deer in the headlights subpersonality in the presence of Da Man, or the caterwauling between my ears whenever I get a CBC print out? It is INARGUABLE that I feel better than I have in 18-24 months. I have two gyms to try out this week! Ah.... but The Numbers.

It's an edgy day for me. It's been an edgy weekend.

I was traumatized by my two hospital stays. Unlike prosaic and holy Iona - it really is a sacred isle, please visit it as a pilgrimage if you can - I could not leave. I could not rip out the IV and say, "Alright already, the food here sucks, you've been very nice but I really must be going." I could not leave and live. After the chemo, I had no white blood cells and neutrophils worth mentioning. If I'd left, if I'd said, "Enough!," my insurance company would've dropped me like a very hot potato and my immune system would've been good for maybe a few hours at best.

I had to stay. I did. I'm alive today, thanks to God, your prayers and admittedly good medical care.

But I couldn't leave. Today I can. And there are some fairly neurotic corners of my psyche that need reminding of that.... that I can breathe, that I have choice, that Jesus and the presence of your prayers as well as my friend Susan will be with me.... and that it's Another Lesson time today.

Stay tuned. It's cool enough for a nice jog, wouldn't you know?

"Don't worry, Gromit - everything's under control!"


  1. boy, you are strong, Diane; strong enough for today. This guy better be good, cause I get the feeling that you are ready, in spite of your fear, to have this meeting. Breathe before you walk in, breathe when he talks, and breathe when you walk out...and then, sometime in the next day or two have one of those larger type blood sugar annihilators,(surely there must be something a little like that in Georgia) just because sometimes, when we have to face something difficult, we just need a cup a coffee and a little something sweet later on.

    I am praying for you all day.

  2. Bless you and thank you...... !

    "Left foot, right foot, breathe...." (Fr. Tom W. of Oakland CA, SJ).