Monday, May 31, 2010

Who's the mother?

I am one year four months out, and I've been pulling weeds.

So the dirt contains fungi that you inhale, and if you're immune suppressed, it can cause infection with a fungus called Aspergillus that can make you very sick. I've been there. During my first round with leukemia in 2003, I pulled just a few weeds out of the garden and ended up with surgery to remove the fungal ball that settled on my lung.

Planting is an important ritual here. My mother loved her small garden at their beach house. When she couldn't sleep, she'd relax by closing her eyes and planning her garden. Frankly, I don't like it that much, but the weeding sucks you in, and the rest, once you start, can get pretty consuming.

Katie and I went to the greenhouse the other day to pick out our annuals. I have a decent number of perennials, but I always fill in. I was looking at one empty spot and couldn't figure out what was wrong. Then I remembered that there had been a big patch of a tall plant that bloomed in fall, some kind of geranium with small flowers. No trace of it. I figure it either just died, someone pulled it out, or it just didn't feel like blooming this year.

Anyway, I started unloading the plants and placing them. Katie did the whole thing last year when I was too close to transplant. But I figured this year was different, and I wanted to dig in the dirt.

Katie asked, "Did you just decide you were going to do this or did someone say it's OK?" She snatched my garden tools and gloves.

I hemmed and hawed.

"I've gotten out there and pulled weeds. I figured it was OK. "

Katie: "So you've never asked," she said, holding onto the tools.

I called Melissa.

"My daughter and I are having a fight about the garden. She says I shouldn't be in the dirt.

Melissa: "She's absolutly right. If you're in the dirt now, get out! You should stay out of the garden at least until you're off the prednisone."

I'm not even supposed to reach down and pull a weed.

Okaaay, Okaaay.

End of story...for now.


PJ said...

I wear a mask and gloves when digging, and I don't overdo it. Do I have permission? Nope. When my husband sees this post, no more gardening for me!

Ann Flower said...

Just gone through your blog and found it wonderful. It was nice going through your blog. keep on posting.

Ann said...

I still struggle with wanting to do things that I feel I should be able to do, but know that I shouldn't because of transplant. Sit back and enjoy one more year free of garden duty. You'll have plenty of time to weed once you're free of steroids.

Wendy S. Harpham, MD said...

Dear Ronni,

I sympathize with your desire to do something that brings pleasure and, more importantly, signals that you are not sick, not immunosuppressed, not "different."

A few mantras that have helped me when I've been tempted to ignore my limits and put myself at risk:

Choosing NOT to do something I enjoy doing is one way to regain some control over my future health.

I sacrificed too much to jeopardize my continued recovery unnecessarily.

The greatest act of love for those who have cared for and about me through my illness is to protect my renewed health. Put another way, to put myself at risk is an insult to all those people who worked so hard and lovingly to help me get to this point.

If I were to get sick with something preventable, I'd live with guilt and regret for having exposed myself.

Ronni,if none of the above mantras do the trick, I've relied on the old standby, "Do the right thing, whatever you might be thinking or feeling or wanting or hoping."

I hope this is helpful, Wendy

susiegb said...

Good on Katie!!

Trish said...

when I was closer to my rounds of chemo, I attended services one Friday night. It had been important to me to go, I needed to be around people and to hear the liturgy, the cantor sing and just be. I didn't take any chances, I stayed away from people, didn't shake hands, kiss or hug anyone. I needed to be there for ME.

A friend looked at me and said "I mean this with all due respect, you look like sh!t, go home!".

I was tired, probably closer to exhausted, but happy.

I turned to the friend and said "I love you too, but F*ck you, I'm here for me this time".

She didn't get it. At all.

It wasn't about risk, or even being "normal", it was doing something for me, something positive, in the midst of all the crap.

Advised? No. Oncologist nearly reamed me into the next month for doing it.

But my numbers rebounded after that night.

Coincidence? I think not.

I'm not advocating going out and kissing people with strep or H1N1, or playing amongst moldy roses, or volunteering at the TB ward...but sometimes, you gotta do what's right for you.

sending understanding love and hugz

Susan C said...

Perfect title. I just love to see the tables turned!

pam said...

Good for you, Katie...Runder-Woman, i remember your Mother's beautiful garden, from my view hardly small, and was just thinking about her story about the mockingbird as i walked by a friend's place, former garden writer for your Mother's beloved NY Times!

i can still see Katie playing there -- Misty, and your Father at the Grill, Mother and Katie setting the table so beautifully, elegant, simple, a truly gracious Heart/h/Home, and i cherish my many memories, which i am so grateful to you to have...xop