We encourage you to find more of Teisha’s writing at the blog http://betterthansleepingalone.typepad.com/my_weblog/Comment
I’m listening to Patty Griffin, she’s singing the song “Useless Desires” in G. I love this song. It talks about a hopeless situation but it sounds so, groovy. Her voice makes me think she would understand me. “Everyday I take a little pill, that gets me on my way, for the little aches and pains the ones I have from day to day. Help me think a little less, about the things I missed, to help me not to wonder, how I ended up like this” she sings, so smoothly.
I went to Oncologists clinic today up on the hill. Blue sky and Azalea bushes on the way up to the entrance. I saw familiar faces there. Kind eyes, sincere smiles and warm hugs. That place has seen a piece of me.
Truth be told, I came in one morning with the most stubborn bloody nose I’ve ever known. A quick blood test showed my platelets were at 3. Platelets keep your blood together, clots it so it stops running. I think 170 is the low end of the healthy platelet count range. The nurses rolled me in to an isolation booth because of all the blood which a few times I swallowed and then heaved up into a plastic bin held in front of my tired, cranky face. I’m not a morning person.
So, on this spectacularly gross morning, I go to the bathroom and lock myself in, my mom is waiting just outside the door. I shuffle across the room and onto the toilet. What I remember next is waking up with my head on the handrail next to the toilet paper holder looking down on the floor where a little pool of blood the size of a slightly deflated balloon lays between my feet. What happened? I think. Coming back to consciousness and knowing, in that second, that I had lost it makes me leap up. I must have opened the door and then I do recall fainting into mom’s arms, she catches me and sets me gently down onto the floor. I wake up again to see my blood splattered along the leg of the nurse who looks just like (find this name). Just like her. I, thinking I’m funny and clearly, not exactly “with it” I start calling out to the Nurses “platelets! please platelets!” I’m waving my hand in the air and we’re amazed and chuckling a little bit because it had already been such a long morning, taxing morning. I was glad to have experienced fainting though, I have never fainted before so it was telling. Silver linings make their way.
The emergency stretcher comes for me as I lay on the floor. There is a guy whose job it is to move me through the hospital and a woman whose job it is to walk next to us. She is very capable and one of her hands is much smaller than normal and missing a finger I think and they wheel us all around the corridors until we are in the Emergency room. I had to go to the bathroom. The nurse doesn’t think I’ve got the energy so he brings a commode into the room. There is talk of sending me home. We’re unsettled from the long day. I stretch off the hospital bed and use the basin that has been brought in and when the nurse comes back, it is full of blood. I’m admitted to the hospital. The platelets arrive, the nose bleed stops and the satisfaction of being out of misery in so enormous I lose track of time, forget people’s names, fall into a deep sleep while mom is left to relay the details. In the grand theme of things, we call this incident a “set back.”
Many years ago,I had visited this clinic at Christmas time with family. We sang carols. Ignorance is bliss because at the time I had not been diagnosed nor had I ever thought I would be. I felt sorry for the people in those chairs trying to survive, getting blood, feeling quesy, bald heads and long faces. I couldn’t imagine how they did it. How they faced such dire circumstances and so much discomfort but still had smiles on their faces. And then, come to find, I would be one of them.
Sitting in one of those chairs, bald, quesy, and fatigued my perspective changed. I didn’t feel sorry for my cohorts, I understood this circumstance. Get blood drawn, someone brings you soup. Read the paper. Take a nap. Watch bad television. Talk and listen to the nurses who are busy but focused when it’s your turn. Wait for lab results. Nod at the person next to you quietly asking “what you in for?” “what treatment are you doing?” “Oh, you had a transplant, when was that?”” How are you feeling?” and over the hours of waiting for results and donated cellular energy friends are made. Even as you feel a little bit sorry for yourself the companionship of those who are worse and better off than you lends a fine perspective. It could be worse. It could get better. It is a profound experience and, like so many things in life, it was not what I expected.
So today full of familiar faces and fitful memories is how it plays out now in the clinic. Nurse Molly as had her baby boy, nurse Mark is still writing music, building a log cabin, smiling all the way across his face and Dr. M is as calm and open as ever, asking me to share how I feel today and listening to my words but also taking me in on the whole. “I see progress” she says. This feels really good to hear. “progress is made, when progress is made” (Jesse in the band Amelia I sing with, wrote that in a song)
Now Patty is singing the last part of her songs “goodbye, goodbye, goodbye old friend you, won’t be seeing me again. Goodbye to all the window panes, shinning in the sun, like diamonds on a winter day, goodbye, goodbye to everyone”
Life is good.
A few small nips
A gallon of dread
The clip of the scissors
In back of her head
So frozen and desperate
Such cringing through pain
So solid a sacrifice
So something is gained
She languishes, loving him
Watching him go
He touches the other ones
And she’ll always know
To love him is effortless
But broken by dreams
And loving the sensuous
Is more than it seems
It’s the holidays. This year seems particularly “holiday-ee” to me. I mean this in the best way possible which is saying a lot because this is a time of year that has the potential to go oh-so-poorly in a sad and sulky “holiday-ee” way. I see folks wanting to look on the bright side, if for no good reason than a change of pace. Times have been tough but Santa Claus is coming to town. The reason I can tell is that someone brought a particularly nice bottle of wine to a party filled with people he didn’t even know.
As in stupid
Tongue tied. Literal. Shameless. Delicate. Contriving. Jealous. Selfish. Mean. Vindictive. Ruthless. Old. Ugly. Egotistical. Bitter. Caner ridden. Dying. Ungrateful. Pig headed. Unfeeling. Angry. Dillusional. Addict. Vain. Faithless. Disloyal. Repugnant. Evil. Bad. Wrong. Insane. Sinful.
But satan has lived in stronger men. And jesus has lived in me. You cannot tell by my violent tone. When I walk I walk alone. A thousand steps into a crooked sky. A parlor for your house of pain. A desperate call in a pouring rain. You weren’t the one.
A noose. A neck. A shattered clock.
The jokes on you. There’s no way out. There’s no way in.
And let’s begin again. I didn’t come to tell the truth.
First a word of mental chatter. Inconsistant. Aged. Failure. Sad sack. Looser. Nutcase. Hopeful offender. Hopeless offender.
Belly laughs and chocolate cake
Pray the lord her soul to take
Singing to the radio
Songs of things she couldn’t know
And colored walls
And mommy calls
Belly laughs and chocolate dreams
For the love of everything
Singing to the radio
Songs of things she couldn’t know
And colored walls
And mommy calls
Haven’t finished Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth but have picked up The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak in preparation for book club with Jill and Liz and the crew. Zusak writes in short telling sentences. It reads as a concise tool in his writing trade. His phrases illustrate a deliberate choice of words. When reading a book where every few paragraphs is a word you may be familiar with but are not close to, it causes me to wonder – how did he learn all those vocabulary words? And if the desire of writing is to communicate ideas to anyone who wants to embrace them, would using well known words instead of the alternative host of beautiful and clever ones be ideal? Or, is the use of less used words the chance to teach the teeming groves of words in waiting to anyone who is paying any amount of attention. What constitutes “good” writing? The ideas being conveyed coupled with the way they are dressed in letters and symbols which represent ideas and pauses and tone of voice and level of sound of the voice constitute “good” writing as identified by those who know. Good writing may also be described as the honest attempt of a person to express an idea, a sentiment, an experience for its own sake. It may not be intended to be read or understood by anyone else. These two hundred and sixty nine words are good just because they exist on the page. They’ve been taken from a mind, passed through the fingers and landed on the page. The fourteen minutes it has taken to write these words has given the writer a chance to disengage from the voice of lists and should and could and will and haven’t and might and must. In this quiet space of keeping time while forming words that meld into meaning is as valuable to the writer whether or not the punctuation is exact, the spelling is flawless or the phrasing is lovely and well thought out.
Saturday morning, the day after the appointment with Dr. Meyer and the cast and crew of the BMT (bone marrow transplant clinic), Julie London’s voice is singing across the kitchen, the dogs are groomed and curled up asleep, I am on page 97 of a book called “The Year of Magical Thinking” by Joan Didion. I can hear the furnace blowing warm air into the house and the fireplace is crackling with the firewood Uncle Karl brought to the house. I am polishing off the last of the banana smoothie Mom made for me this morning and working on drinking copious amounts of water.
Yesterday I got good grades on my complete blood counts. My chemistries showed the kidneys are a little bit troubled by all the stuff they are trying to process so they gave me extra fluid while my doctor wrote out notes for the plan for my treatment (and cure, damn it.)
She gave me next week off to continue to recover from the bout of pneumonia that rocked my world and also agreed that I could start the process of receiving chemotherapy on an outpatient basis so I won’t have to check into the OHSU Spa until the final steps of my second transplant, which will happen about six weeks from now, give or take. At that time, I will check into the 14th floor of the Kohler Pavilian for about thirty days. Then it will be home to recoup.
I have come to understand how something can be terrifying and exhilarating all at the same time. My fear and fearlessness live side by side, or so it seems. When the waves of worry threaten to drown my faith I feel the pain of the not knowing and then try to remember that this is the way of the world. Nobody knows.
There is the plan for my immediate future, there are potential risks and potential rewards and then, there is just today. Music in my ears, time to read and relate, a warm bath, a walk around the block and an evening spent watching my one of my god-kids perform in a school play.
Hurray for today is what I want to say.
In an informal vote, it was unanimously agreed that she stood among them as the least likely to marry, much less have kids. But she did. She was the first to have them and they were to grow up under a canopy of lemon and avocado trees. Their classes would be teaming with predominately brown-skinned kids helping them to remain completely unmolested by the interracial dalliance that was, in part, their parent’s relationship. One day her young son would exclaim the question “Wait, I’m black?” Doesn’t that say it all? He was not unhappy about it, just delightfully surprised. His skin color had not betrayed him. His skin was not the enemy. His comfort with himself and how the world looked upon him the likely result of all those movements, protests, Bennington commercials and Fat Albert; He did not feel any pressure to assimilate. No apology in the back of his throat. He walked curly headed and striking to school without a whiff of insecurity. Entitled and richly unaware. It was not 1969 anymore.
As for his sister, she was brave. Brown-eyed and deeply curious about the world of emotions and the influence of sharp interpersonal skills on the lives of her family members. She was born with her eyes wide open. Blinking when confronted with the attention of an adult and shy with strangers. She would, throughout most of her live, be mistaken for just another pretty girl and, in doing so, kept the bulk of her intelligence invisible and close to her chest. She stood up straight, the silky haired girl with the blinding smile. A supreme intellectual at 8 years old, a tomboy at recess, an eavesdropper of her parent’s tug-o-war.Comment