23 February 2012

dubiety and Fred Gwynne

February 21, 2012

Actually sore from yesterday’s physical therapy. Now we’re getting somewhere. She had me on a death-defying obstacle course and I defied. Defiantly.

Note to self and hereby to the public: Finish making yourself sick on Valentine’s candy hearts so that your body can recover before March’s round of chemo.

February 23, 2012

Three days ago, I felt a dubious sadness for the loss of an imaginary distinction and a warranted sadness for the advent of a new generation of fearful souls.

For being self-indulgent, the first sadness calls for less, if any, consolation. Nearly half of my life ago, I was young. Like young young. Young enough to still be wise-beyond-my-years. Not the sort of young that I admittedly still am—the sort that curmudgeonly chair-rockers ridicule the mere notion of—the humph! if I was your age I’d be cake-walking Everest with a woman over each shoulder sort of young. (It is also fun to picture Fred Gwynne glowering down at Joe Pesci, asking, “Uh, did you say yutes?”)

To the point, nearly half of my life ago I started this perennial patient-hood of mine. Not even counting two unrelated surgeries and two fish-hook extractions, I’ve done some hard time in waiting rooms; and in the beginning I couldn’t help but notice how young I was. (Have I said the word “young” yet?) Comparatively, that is. I feel safe in saying that on average I was 40 years wetter behind the ears than my fellow patients.

Strangely, my chief emotion for the fact was pride. Sure, there was self-pity, but mostly I scanned the waiting room, smiling, accepting the sympathetic looks as adulation for my inadvertent accomplishment—my early-onset glioma.

Don’t get me wrong, my chief emotion in general, age notwithstanding, was trepidation. Anxiety is timeless, an equal opportunity destroyer of peace. Peace, to get myself on record saying this, is the ultimate antidote to a poisoned mind; faith, hope, love, while perhaps supreme in wellness, pale against peace in times of illness. (Argue amongst yourselves concerning the verity of that statement, but don’t bother arguing with me.)

Back to the point, three days ago, I grudgingly forfeited my figurative seat in the waiting room to generation Y. I was back at the Comprehensive Cancer Center to have blood drawn in advance of next week’s visit to the Kirklin Clinic where my neuro-oncologist holds court. The CCC, you may recall, is where I had my radiation therapy five years ago, where I had expected a burst of mixed emotions at last month’s visit but was in and out too quickly for a burst of anything but a blood sample. This time, however, there was a wait. I sat and absorbed the familiar surroundings. Then, I scanned the waiting room. Old-timers. Dozing, drooling, palsied old timers. Ha-ha—still the pup. A bit wizened about the eyes, of course, but still, representing my demographic with that strange sense of pride.

[Off-stage record-player screeches. A woman in her early twenties goes to the front desk to get her new-patient paperwork. On the arm of her worried mother, she limps to a seat beside me. Her hand shakes. The mother takes the clipboard. One minute goes by. An even younger woman, hair in wiry patches, signs in, limps to a chair, smiling, visibly proud.]

My genuine sadness came. In a burst. Where would these girls be twice their ages from now? Still shaking, still strangely proud? One or the other or both with this moment in their rearview? One or the other or both back in familiar seats, wanting to feel something, anything, when a frail eleven year old wheelchairs herself into the CCC, stretches up to sign her name, then takes her place, waiting with everyone else who wait for their names to be called.

[Resume record. Protagonist prays his best for the best thing he knows.]


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