Confirm rides; check. Water flower pots; check. Remind boss I will be out; check. Getting ready for chemo day, and the days which follow, is not unlike getting ready for a trip, except I’m not going any where fun.
Make a pitcher of herbal iced tea to have waiting in the refrigerator; check (which continual mental thanks to Angela for the suggestion almost a year ago). Pack lunch, water, and snacks – no point in being hostage to hospital food or vending machine fare. Don’t forget a sweater. Even if it’s 90° outside, the clinic is kept cool. Focusing on the now-familiar pattern of getting ready distracts me from the weariness of thinking about why I am doing this.
Clear the deck with an assortment of associate provosts and other “need to know” colleagues. While I’m at it, solicit their book recommendations. Biding time at a USC reception this past Friday night, I told one friend who teaches writing that I love history and classical fiction but feel in a rut. He suggested short stories, with an eye to read for differences in technique. Earlier this spring I tried out the short stories of Haruki Murakami, so I was ready for his suggestion. I’m now chewing through small bites of Hawthorne, Poe, Clemens, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Stegner and others in this genre less familiar to me. My favorite thus far: Edith Wharton’s “The Other Two.” I wouldn’t spoil it by telling you about it.
In the bookstore, I also could not resist two from my “have been meaning to read” list: Alexandre Dumas père’s “The Count of Monte Cristo” and Jane Austen’s “Mansfield Park.” Yes, I could have checked them out of the library or downloaded them, but on that shopping excursion I did my “on sale for $6.99” part to fight the demise of the beautiful hardbound book with deckeled pages.
I was in Rome just as the Count was starting his plan of revenge and not in the day hospital when the nurse handed me my lab results. I stared at the IgM number in disbelief. That lymphoma marker had gone down by 40% and my platelets had edged up. With a thumbs-up, my doctor simply said, “Okay, we just keep going.” Next set of tests and treatments are October 5th.
I’ve been willing to do this, and have been committed to it, but it should does make a difference when it does some good, opposed to not. I can’t say that this will ever be fun, but the good ideas, support, prayers, and advice from many of you continue to make this unwanted adventure better than tolerable, and you’ve kept me cheered this spring and summer before this turned around. “The Count of Monte Cristo” closes with this sentence: “the count just told us that all human wisdom will be contained in these two words: Wait and hope.”
P.S. Here’s my lemon berry buttermilk cake, a good celebration dessert. Come on over next week.