Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Big problems, 'little' problems

Me (left) and Diane after her birthday party at her house.

The news was even more dreary than usual today, topped by developments in the devastating earthquake in already-struggling Haiti. I was going to write a post topped by a little story from Monday's Boston visit. It felt so insignificant that I put it off and thought about it some more.

There is so much trouble in the world that I think sometimes we rank our problems against it and come out realizing we don't have it so badly. Yet that doesn't mean our problems are not real.

Sometimes people start telling me about a problem, often medical, and then they cut themselves short and say, "Well, I shouldn't be complaining to you." I always say that I don't lay claim to all the suffering, that everyone has a right to voice his or her own problem, and they should please tell me what's going on. Maybe I can offer some help.

I guess if you have a life-threatening disease, even though that doesn't shake the world, it's intense enough to talk about.

There. Now I feel better. So here's my little story:

My clinic visit was good Monday, so I got another pass and need only return in two weeks. Everything was about the same, with my platelets actually going up a little, to 68.

On the way home I wanted to see if I could find some "real" bagels and a Starbucks. So I called Diane. We both dismissed the chain, Finaigle a Bagel. Who gives a name like that to a store that has real Jewish bagels? "You want something that doesn't taste like it's been puffed up with air, right?" Diane asked. She said there was a store called Rosenfelds kind of tucked under some buildings in Newton Centre.

"Is this going to be another story called 'Ronni gets lost?'" I asked. "It doesn't have to be," Diane said. I don't know why but I have trouble in Newton. Last time I called her about going to that Starbucks I had ended up approaching it the wrong way, and we had no idea how I got so turned around.

My instructions were to park the car in Newton at Beacon and Centre and then get out, go into Starbucks, and ask someone to point me to the bagel shop. "You know what I'm saying," Diane said. Then she repeated it: park, Starbucks, bagel shop. I laughed at being told multiple times, like I wouldn't "get" it if I only heard it once. Sad thing is, that's true.

OK. Park, go into Starbucks, ask, see the bagel place diagonally across the street. Head out. In my black boots, carefully cross icy snowbank. Notice streak of white across the afternoon sky and notice that others carefully walking are doing the same balancing act that I am. Arms out, windmill style.

Arrive at Rosenfeld's. It's closed! A young woman peers inside the door. Closed Monday and Tuesday, she says, her face falling. I mumble shared disappointment. Back to Starbucks for coffee to go. (The coffee is excellent, by the way.) Share disappointment with "barista." He agrees it's not a good schedule.

Continue down Centre Street and get on the Mass Pike West with no trouble.


It felt really normal. One minute I'm at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, a patient, and the next I'm a pedestrian clambering over a snowbank and talking about bagels. (I bought bagels in Western Massachusetts, so it all worked out).

I saw a lot of the Pike Sunday and Monday. Diane had a birthday party Sunday afternoon in Newton, and I went to that. I know a lot of the people who were there and had a good time catching up with them. The food was good, and the company was good. More problematic was that I decided to drive back home at 7:30 p.m. (one-and-a-half hours) and then come back for my clinic appointment the next morning. People told me it was a bad plan. It probably was, but it seemed easiest. When I got back home around 9, envisioning a pleasant couple of hours, I was confronted by the same messy dining room table I had left behind, filled with financial aid documents that I needed to fill out, plus other problems.

Unrested, the next morning I headed back to the clinic. Oh well, at least I got a good report, had lunch with Margaret (combining something fun with a clinic visit is always a good idea), did NOT get lost and got a good cup of coffee, although, alas, no bagels.


Diane said...

It was so wonderful that you were here to celebrate my birthday. While it wasn't a 'big number' for me, I was thrilled that you came. Neighbors later commented on how well you looked and I agree. Last year at this time you were in the hospital facing the most grueling months of your life, and here you are coming to birthday parties and searching for bagel spots (sorry it was closed but I'm so glad you found it for next time!)

It's true that you can't compare suffering - even though you have had more than your share. Maybe it's a bit of a relief to be having the 'little' problems that everyone has as you re-build and re-enter into everyday life. Anyway, I'm personally relieved that the biggest challenge is helping you to find a bagel spot and not get lost rather than what you were dealing with a year ago.

Love you!

Howard said...

At first when I saw the photo at the top of your latest entry I assumed it was an old one (as you simply look too well). Very happy to see it had just been taken. You and Diane both look great. Delighted to know you're health inertia is building.

May it stay that way!

Ann said...

First, let me say, I have hair envy! I loved reading about your platelets going up and the fact that you didn't get lost. It's these posts that remind me that life does become normal.

Ann said...

Although your sister has beautiful hair, I was referring to your gorgeous coif. :) I would not be able to tell from the picture that we're dealing with the same hair dilemma. Yours looks lush and shiny. I find that when I use too much product my problem becomes really noticeable. The rogaine foam has definitely helped, though.

PJ said...

You and Dianne look great! Good news about the counts. I know what you mean about the suffering thing. I can have a thoroughly lousy day complete with pain, nausea, vomiting and extreme fatigue, but I have plenty of food to eat (if I can), get to crawl into my comfy bed each night and get lots of support from family and friends. Even in the nightmare world of leukemia, I feel lucky. Keep up the good counts!