Thursday, October 29, 2009

Oy vey, I have shpilkes

In light of my financial problems, the words that I heard coming up from my cellar yesterday were especially scary.

Having finally broken down and turned the heat on a couple of weeks ago, I really wanted heat on Tuesday, a damp, rainy day. I felt especially tired and was not happy to realize the heat on one side of the house was not working. We have two systems, one for the old part of the house (built in 1848) and one for the new part, an addition built in 1992 and comprising my bedroom and the kitchen. The new part was cold Tuesday. I called Bay State Gas, our heating contractor, and a technician replaced a broken part and said we were good to go.

We briefly had heat, but by yesterday it was broken again. So another guy came. After he went down to take a look, I heard these words: "Oh no! Oh no! Oy vey, oy vey."

This is a little like hearing the surgeon say, "Ooops."

I held my breath as he came up the stairs. "What's the problem?" I asked, imagining an expensive repair.

"Whoever put that burner in did a bad job," he said. "They put it in backwards so I had to stoop under the pipes and crank my head around to see the dials and it hurts my back. I'm too old for this."

By the way, he said, my problem was fixed. The previous tech had simply forgotten to clean off the sensors. He didn't look that old to me, but what can you say.

I still had the glow of the benefit, but the week started off so-so. When I saw Dr. Alyea on Monday, he said I was doing very well. He didn't seem concerned that my platelets were back down to 13 (still in double digits, however) and my hematocrit was 22. My white count continued to be normal – a good sign. He said there was an option for boosting the platelets and rbcs, and that's a stem cell infusion from the donor. But he'd rather not do that, because it includes the risk of more – and possibly more serious – graft versus host disease. So he continues to believe my marrow is just taking its time recovering, and that we should be patient.

I know, I know, but sometimes it gets to me, especially after a day like Monday. I got in a chair in the infusion room at 3 p.m. and got my bag of platelets pretty quickly, but there was some glitch at the blood bank and my order wasn't processed on time, so the blood didn't come until around 5:30. Which meant I didn't get out until after 7:30. I was so tired, I called Jim and asked if he could stay with Katie that night. He said yes, so I stayed at Diane's and left the next morning. Diane gave me a nice plateful of dinner, and we had a little slumber party.

I hate to keep complaining about long hours spent at the clinic, because I know it happens to most everyone. Still, the long day, combined with my tendency to catastrophize about the low counts (I won't even go there) kind of brought me down.

I tried to describe my unease to my friend Deb Doner. "You mean you have shpilkes," she said. "What?" I asked. "You know, shpilkes." I didn't get the spelling of this great Yiddish work right, so Meryl and Danny told me, and I looked it up in a Yiddish dictionary. Shpilkes: pins and needles. Zitsh oyf shpilkes: Sitting on pins and needles.

This bit of research caused me to relax a bit. Somehow it's comforting to know there's a Yiddish word for my state of mind.

And, as my father liked to say, "This too shall pass."

Put more bluntly, even though he'd never say this: Stop kvetching.


Paula said...

Keep going, Ronni!
Got your MO from
'Respectfully Sassy'.

I'm here with lots of others that want you to run with it!

Diane said...

Great post! Now I have a new word for my vocabulary.

You are fabulous. Yes it's true that your bone marrow hasn't kicked in fully, but it hasn't punked out either... it's just taking time. In between your drive by refueling visits, you are seem to be living your life to the fullest.

Keep it up and keep being positive

Ann said...

Considering all of the chemo you've had to have over the course of a few years, it's no wonder you marrow is taking its time. Your numbers will rise, it's just a matter of time. Remember, slow and steady wins the race. Feel free to throw that back at me when I post yet again about my hair thing. :)
As for feeling like you're complaining about long clinic days, don't worry about it. We can all sympathize. Let loose to feel better. It never sounds like complaining to me, anyway.

donna said...

I love reading the comments from all your readers near and far. You are a guide and a giant ray of hope for all of them that are going through the same thing. When you get discouraged their kind comments surely help you get through it. You are truly loved and deservedly so!

Trish said...

at least the shpilkes aren't due to neuropathy! ;-)

and, at least you've got something to kvetch about and are alive to do the kvetching.

yes, one cancer patient to another, trying to see the upside of having tsuris to kvetch about (the clinic, the heat...).

I have to say, if I kept hearing the heater-man say "oy vey!" I think I'd really be concerned too.

and...there is a Yiddish saying for everything we experience...good, bad, indifferent.

my oncologist told me to stop worrying about my platelets---worrying seems to cause me to lose more of them, ergo, I'm trying to be happy about them. Yeah, well, it beats worrying about them! ;-)