Sunday, July 18, 2010

How Am I Doing?!!!!

The folks that I run into in this part of the country, even the strangers, are inherently warm and friendly souls. They almost never fail to offer a

        'Hi, how are ya'?'

Firmly believing that, in many ways, we are a product of our choices, I have to make a choice on how to respond to the simple 'how are ya's' that come my way.   

           Maybe I could say what I'm THINKING:

'How am I? Now, I'm not complaining, BUT I've spent the last week being sick to my stomach. I have insomnia and I can't find a single sheep to count. Flu-like symptoms, neuropathy, poor appetite, foot and hand cramps. Without being too graphic, I have a runny nose, I feel like I've been run over and I'm running on empty. I've been regurgitating things I don't specifically remember gurgitating!

My insurance provider has changed for the second time since my diagnosis in November of 2008. Hope they cover my treatment. My Revlimid delivery was two days late because I have to use a new pharmacy approved by the new insurance company. It says right on the pill bottle '21 days on, 7 days off' - not 9 days off! My medication co-pays have tripled under the new plan. If they don't cover Revlimid it will be $7500 a month.

The new, personal-service insurance rep called me 'Scene Murphy' - my name is Sean Murray. Sean, like Sean Connery, the guy whom would kick your rear end if you called him 'Scene!' And it's Murray, not Murphy. Not that there's anything wrong with the name Murphy. My Irish grandmother was a Murphy - but my grandfather was a Murray. Good personal service starts with calling me by the right name.  

Because of the insurance change, I have to educate another dentist about MM and assure him that it is okay for him to clean my teeth even though I'm receiving quarterly Zometa infusions. Yes, I have heard of Osteonecrosis of the Jaw, but my jaw bone will not die if you, or your nice, but overly perfumed hygienist, don't accidentally rip out one of my teeth while you're trying to clean it.

And yes, even though I've had several rounds of high-dose chemotherapy, two stem cell transplants, a dozen bone marrow biopsies, three kyphoplasties to repair collapsed vertebrae, a filter placed in my inferior vena cava to stop runaway blood clots from killing me, lots of broken bones, hundreds of blood tests, and I am undergoing THREE YEARS of maintenance chemo, I'm not a tough guy. If I just happen to have a cavity, I pray that Dr. Newdentist gives me enough Novocaine to  deaden the pain, as I gave up biting on a bullet or slugging back whiskey from the bottle years ago. One time a dentist slipped in his chair and gave me a shot on my eyelid.    

Oh, and I had to replace my roof, my gutters are 5 weeks late, it's hot, Hot, HOT outside, my new puppy has mange, my glasses broke, the air conditioning on my family van isn't cooling well, I can't taste my food, and the weeds are preparing to quick-march an assault on the grass in the yard. And I have this thing called peripheral neuropathy that makes my hands and feet numb.

AND, I still have to drag my anemically exhausted body to my weekly maintenance chemotherapy sessions - only 122 weeks more to go!  

I missed church because I felt it was more important for the congregation to hear the minister's message than to try and decipher the Morse Code of my coughing fits. Three long sneezes, two short coughs, three long sneezes - SOS, Save our Scene, I mean, Sean!'

That's what I was THINKING. But what I chose to SAY was:

'How'm I doing? I'm GREAT! Life is an adventure and I'm glad to be here.'

And you know what? Life IS an adventure. Life with Myeloma is a chaotic adventure. God didn't promise me an easy path, but He sure made it an interesting journey. Yeah, I'm doing GREAT!

 Keep fighting out there in Myelomaville!


Nick said...

What a great post! Funny, informative and positive -- words that describe the author as well!

Keep on keeping on, my friend!



Lorna said...

Poor puppy :-(

It never ceases to amaze me that life sometimes decides that things are getting boring and throws a whole lot of stuff at us.

Hope that cold is gone soon.

Kristine said...

I have been wondering how to respond to the "how are you doing?" question as well. I think I will borrow your great answer. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you're going so well! ;D

Anonymous said...

Oh, oh - I forgot to say in my enthusiasm to comment amidst the joy of reading how well you were doing - puppy?!?!?!?! - You got a puppy and didn't post pictures, what on earth have you been doing instead? There's no rush they can wait until you've finished enjoying yourself! :D

Karen said...

Isn't trying to get Revlimid delivered every month the worst? I would always say the biggest side-effect of the Revlimid was the monthly stress involved in just trying to get the Revlimid. Hang in there!

Ladyaero said...

I remember reading once in Ann Landers or Dear Abby, an older woman's answer to the "How are you?" question when she was actually doing pretty poorly: "Better for the asking, thank you."

My husband has just started chemo for recently diagnosed MM and I get the "How are you?" question a lot...for now my answer is "As Dory says, I 'just keep swimmin'." (That's a Finding Nemo reference for anyone out there who isn't into or subjected to children's movies on a regular basis!) :-)

Sean Murray said...

Hi All! Thanks for your comments.

I love that from the entire post that rambled on about me, Lorna says 'Poor Puppy!' HA! I love it!

Peppermint is now 8 months old and her treatment for mange takes 6 weeks to complete - no stem cell transplant though! Prognosis: a cure!I'll work on a picture, Paula.

Lorna, I hope you and Micky are feeling better. Come on SCT! Tomato Week? :)

Karen, delivery problems should be listed in the side-effects documentation for Revlimid! Hope that you are feeling good and that you had fun on your travels.

Nick, ALWAYS good to hear from you. If you all haven't seen Nick's recent posts, run, don't walk to his blog.

Ladyaero, I pray that your husband does well with his treatment. Stay positive - great things are happening with MM today. Stay in touch!

Really good to hear from you Kristine!

tim's wife said...

Looks like you've been served up a big 'ol helping of Murphy's...
um...Murray's law. Hope things smooth out soon. I've learned in the last few years that when people ask "how are ya?" they really just want to hear "fine." Unless they are amongst our inner circle, even a very short explanation of the reality has them staring off into space. But you're right, in my head when asked this question, the list is so long I wouldn't even know where to start. A cardiologist looked at me last week and asked me why my blood pressure was so high. Even my abridged version of the facts made him understand pretty quickly. Just halfway through, I saw the "AH, I see now" look come over his face. Or maybe that was the "holy c***" look. I can't be sure. ;o)