Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Making it Through

My book club is reading Rules of Civility by Amor Towles this month and I am enjoying it immensely. To paraphrase the description on the cover, it is the story of a chance encounter in 1937 and the startling consequences that propel the heroine  on a yearlong journey toward the upper echelons of New York society. 

Since my diagnosis of multiple myeloma, I find that more often now I find thoughts and ideas that strike a chord with me in the books that I am reading and I know my emotions are closer to the surface causing me to be moved more easily by philosophical thought. Yesterday, I read such a passage in this book that made me stop and read it again and then write the page number on the back of my bookmark  knowing that I would want to return to it.  Let me share it with you:

My father was never much one for whining.  In the nineteen years I knew him, he hardly spoke of his turn in the Russian army, or of making ends meet with my mother, or the day that she walked out on us.  He certainly didn't complain about his health as it failed.

But one night near the end, as I was sitting at his bedside trying to entertain him with an anecdote about some nincompoop with whom I worked, out of the blue he shared a reflection which seemed such a non sequitur that I attributed it to delirium.  Whatever setbacks he had faced in his life, he said, however daunting or dispiriting the unfolding of events, he always knew that he would make it through, as long as when he woke in the morning he was looking forward to his first cup of coffee.  Only decades later would I realize that he had been giving me a piece of advice.......When a person loses the ability to take pleasure  in the mundane.....she has probably put herself in unnecessary must be prepared to fight for one's simple pleasures.....

If we lose the joy of simple pleasures, we risk losing that which enriches our day to day lives and gives us hope. I am someone who loves to get up in the morning and read the newspapers and drink freshly ground coffee.  If the day ever comes when I have lost interest in such small pleasures, I will fear that I am losing resolve and, more importantly, hope.  I believe that continuing to look forward to something as ordinary as a hot cup of coffee each morning  could be a metaphor for "making it through" and having hope for the future.  
My Morning Coffee
Savoring my morning coffee  - check! 
Reading the newspapers - check!

Completing the New York Times Crossword - check!  
Enjoying simple pleasures - check! 


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Optimism Required

Last night I heard the frogs singing in a nearby wetland for the first time this year.  Slumbering frogs awakening into song portending spring is one of my favorite soundsWhen I hear them, I can't help but be reminded that spring is near and know that it is a time of rebirth and and a time for optimism.  

As 2012 ended, I was looking forward to the new year with hope that good things would happen in 2013. So far, I have had to resume treatment because of my rising lambda light chains, I have had another cold and cough, and just last Thursday I woke up with shingles!  All of this sounds worse than it has been.  My cold kept me down and at home, but considering my weak immune system, I think I recovered rather quickly.  When the shingles made their ugly debut, I called my oncologist right away and he prescribed an aggressive regimen of acyclovir and it seems to be working.  I haven't had a lot of pain and I am thankful for that knowing how bad shingles can be.  

My last blood work showed that the lambda light chains had increased by nearly 22 points.  Before that, they were rising about10 or 11 points a month.  When I saw the latest results, it was upsetting and even a little scary.  I have to keep in mind I had only two low dose injections of Velcade prior to that blood work. I have now had three injections with a fourth one scheduled for this week - if the shingles don't get in the way.  At my last appointment, my doctor reassured me that we are treating a miniscule amount of myeloma.  We hadn't seen the latest light chain results at that time, so I need to remember that a 22 point increase of a miniscule amount should be kept in proper perspective.

The year 2013 hasn't had an auspicious beginning, but there is a lot of this year left and I am optimistic that things will get better.  After all, I heard the frogs singing.

In honor of St. Patrick's Day
This is the centerpiece for our 
 dinner table.