Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A Day of Physical and Emotional Turmoil

I'll start off by saying that everyone's fine. Some are in more pain than others. But for today, at least, everyone's fine.

I think I'll describe the day working backwards. Why? So I can begin with this picture.

(Actually, if I were to begin at the very end of the day, I'd start with my frenetic, just-before-closing trip to Sears to replace our washing machine that died a violent death, attempting to bring the house's electricity with it as it sputtered and gasped through its final cycle last night.)

So why is Tom smiling? Because he'd just been given a shot (demerol, toradol and fentanyl) in each butt-cheek by that pretty (and very kind) nurse, and that warm, initial oh-thank-you-thank-you-for-making-the-pain-go-away feeling was beginning to wash over him.

I'll bet you're wondering how Tom tore just about everything in his shoulder having anything to do with his AC (acromio-clavicular) joint and his calvicle, aren't you? You're probably thinking it had something to do with jumping out of an airplane, falling off a motorcycle, or racing a Ferrari, aren't you?

Well, you'd be wrong.

It did have to do with trying to get his 51-year-old body to play a rambunctious game of football with the 20-somethings at work -- and specifically something about diving for a ball "thrown short."

Which, he'd like you to know, he caught.

We're not sure what the healing process will entail, but apparently it is quite a process -- which might even include surgery. We'll know more once we see the orthopedic surgeon... which will be when we get back from Lake Pend Oreille in Idaho, where we'd planned to go tomorrow. And he is absolutely determined to still make it happen.

My longer-term concern is for our trip to Germany in three weeks. Will he be well enough to travel? Should we postpone? We hope not to postpone our trip, partly because we've really been looking forward to this, and partly because once I start working (and the hope is that I'll have breaking news in the near future), I won't be able to get away for three weeks like I can now. But we'll see.

So, moving backward through the day: I was on the cancer ward of Virginia Mason hospital in Seattle when I got Peter's call about Tom.

My dearest friend Kristin, who I have known and loved and admired since I was 12, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in October, 2004. As you might know, this is one of the deadliest forms of cancer, with an after diagnosis life-expectancy of around six months.

But this is Kristin we're talking about. Kristin defines "life-to-the-fullest"! And that's described Kristin all along, not just after her cancer diagnosis. She is light and love and laughter and everything that's perfect about life. And you know what? She's completely defied the odds! Almost four years after her diagnosis, after major ("Whipple") surgery at Johns Hopkins, after torturous chemo, and after surgery to remove parts of each lung, Kristin was at the hospital today for a routine CAT scan! (Kristin lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, but the clinical trial she's enrolled in -- and thus her cancer care -- is in Seattle, one of the best cities to be in if you have to have cancer.)

We are well aware that, in terms of statistics, Kristin is already on borrowed time, so our time together when she's in Seattle is precious and, in a way, tormenting. I can't imagine losing Kristin. I somehow came to accept Mom's cancer, maybe because she was in her 70's and it felt more random than unfair. But if cancer takes Kristin, who is still in her 50's, and who this world NEEDS, I'm just not sure I can accept that. I love her to pieces; she's the closest I'll ever come to having a sister.

But for today, at least, she feels good. And her CAT scan showed nothing alarming. I am so grateful! And hopeful.

Before heading to the hospital, I stopped by the organization from which I was laid off in April and asked if anyone wanted to head to Starbuck's for a latte. The administrative manager, the project director (who prompted my lay-off) and I spent about an hour together, during which time I learned that... how do I put this? I learned that he'll be involuntarily leaving the organization. I was definitely shocked. But what took me most by surprise was my emotional reaction. I felt no vindictiveness, no anger, no animosity, no spite toward him. I had no "serves you right" or "must be karma" feeling at all, only pity for the guy. I can't explain it, because I have every reason to gloat right now. But I just feel plain sorry for him and wish the best for him.


And before that (for the two of you who might still be reading), I had a meeting with the marketing director at the company with whom I'm interviewing for the Director of Product Development position AND for whom I'm doing a contract writing gig. Apparently my first draft (yes, the writer's block eventually passed) has been well-received. Now let's just hope my application for the job will be too! I know -- the whole situation is a bit bizarre, but I'm grateful for the work and for the opportunity to compete (and it sounds like it's a national competition) for the directorship.

And before that? I woke up, looked at the clock, and jumped out of bed with a breathless "OH MY GOD!" because I'd accidentally set my alarm for 6:55 PM instead of 6:55 AM.

As Aleks quipped sarcastically when he walked in the house this evening, saw Tom's condition and heard about the day, "Well I think we all learned a valuable lesson here, didn't we?"

I know I did.

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5 comments: said...

Hey Tom........stick to swimming and sailing, they are much much easier on the body!

Anonymous said...

What a day! I'm glad everyone is basically fine.

Blog Antagonist said...

Ouch. Sounds like something my husband would do. He's forty, but he acts 16. Or younger.

J said...

thanks for the post. I know that that might seem like an odd thing to say, but I felt like I was having 'one of those days' today. Your post made me realise just how petty was being.

I hope everything works out for Tom and your job.

Jen said...

I've been reading your postings chronilogically backwards, but my goodness you have a lot on your plate right now. I hope it all gets easier, soon! And best of luck to Kristin. Clinical trials can be wonderful things!

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