Thursday, February 14, 2013

I Saved My Spouse's Life, Avoiding Medical Machinery


Here it is! Saint Valentine’s Day!  My annual deadline to ensure every last Christmas decoration is put away, and I am proud to say, I overachieved this year!  I got everything finalized by January 18th!  (Despite the fact that this was an act of pure ‘distraction,’ I still give myself credit.)

Friday, January 18th was the last day of a multi-day outpatient process where my husband went to Dana Farber to enjoy alien-technology where they removed his entire blood volume every hour – from one arm – then poured it inside a machine that resembled a Xerox copier from the 1970s where it was agitated and strained by a high-tech sieve which pulled out millions of baby stem cells that were funneled into a secret glove-compartment, after which a separate wing of the machine poured all the leftovers back into a completely different arm of my husband. 


Then this process began again. Every hour.  Six hours per day.  On Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, until he resembled Mina from Dracula, only with a beard. 

Fortunately, this process resulted in the successful harvest of sufficient baby stem cells for future immune-system transplants that will keep his myeloma disorder controlled for several years to come.

My husband’s 'harvest nurse' -- we'll call her Nurse Van-Helsing -- asked why I did not accompany him during his ten hour per day, three-day stem cell collection process.

Well.  First of all, there were far too many Christmas decorations for me to abandon simply to observe a Xerox machine remove my husband’s entire blood volume and re-circulate it every hour while he snored.

More importantly:  if you have reviewed my posts about the manner in which machinery behaves when I get near it, you will understand that my distant-proximity likely saved his life.

Multiple ex-teaching colleagues can testify to my ... misadventures...with photocopiers in particular. I was the one that irreparably jammed the feeder-tray to the point where the copier sucked paper into its own motor, then re-programmed itself to laminate its light-proof cover onto the glass plate beneath.

Once the school’s smoke alarm triggers from fumes caused by molten steel and melted glass -- and an  evacuation-order from the mayor gets issued --  repairmen and EMTs are swiftly spirited to the scene.

It was in my husband’s best interests that I not be near the zip code of the vampiric machinery extracting his blood volume.

What turned out to be a successful “stem cell collection” is due exclusively to those Christmas decorations loitering about my house like vandals. (Thank God for Christmas. Go Mary!) 

I spent many a content stem cell collection hour wrapping scores of hanging wreaths and puffy snowmen and crystal Santas and ceramic trees. They even required new boxes.  The old ones seemed dusty. So OFF to liquor stores I traipsed for empty cases that once housed up to 20 one-litre bottles of elixirs for the damned, but now cradle delicate dangling tree balls and scores of Baby Jesi.

My deco-distraction not only ensured a successful future transplant for my husband, it spared Dana Farber what I am certain is a king’s ransom in vampire-machinery replacement.

So today, on Saint Valentine’s Day, I am able to focus my amorous attention on a NEW annual deadline:  I have until my 2:30 chiropractor appointment to finish up a few post-Christmas errands. Tasks I have anticipated for weeks will go so poorly, I’ve rehearsed response-dialogue in my mind, between me and proprietors, that justify ‘exceptions-to-policy.”
Take my checkbook. 

Why not? There’s been nothing in it since New Year’s Day but fading, sticky stubs. I lost my checkbook re-order form, so we’ve been withdrawing cash from an ATM card all this time.  I have avoided what I know will be a tense convo with my teller:

“Good morning, Mrs. Given, how can I help you?”

"Hi, Ellen!  Hey, I lost my order form for my checks... can we just order without it?"

“Hmm.  Wait a minute.”  -- consults with colleagues for several minutes; six frowning faces turn in unison to glower at me

 “Carolyn, pull around and park out back, near the dumpster where there’s space. We can’t do this in the drive-through.  Meanwhile, I’ll send a wire to my supervisor for  corporate policy on how we can POSSIBLY--

In my scenario, I drive to the post office instead.

"Good morning, Tom!  Can you believe I lost all my stamps when I put away the Christmas things? They’re probably inside boxes of Christmas cards I thought I needed but, suddenly, it was Martin Luther King Day. I need to pay bills with stamps cuz I’m boycotting online payments since they locked me out of their programs because I forgot my passwords. I enjoy paying my internet provider with paper envelopes and stamps since it costs THEM money to hire staff to open MAIL and process my payme—”

Tom snaps his Customer Service window shut, edits his lunch-hour sign to read, "9-to-10" adding a sentence fragment about some diabetic issue Tom clearly does not have, evidenced by six root beer-empties lining his now-empty station.

Finally, my imaginary mission takes me to a local department store – Store X – to return four Hefty-Sized bags of Christmas Present Clothing I apparently bought for myself during a particularly low self-esteem day.

"Hello, Customer Service. I HATE these items I bought in a moment of despair because your mailbox circular lured me in with an alleged SALE -- and while I realize I should have tried s this stuff on, YOU try this on December 24th with your sales-staff staggering about with overflowing nasal passages complaining of fever and dysentery. I was so afraid of contracting flu and bringing it home to my immune-compromised spouse, I grabbed a ton of mismarked merchandise while staving off contagions by wrapping my ski jacket around my face.  The resulting hypoxia caused SUCH oxygen-deprivation, my vision was impaired so I had no idea most of these pieces were missing things like hems.  And tags with sizes. Do I look like an XXLong XXWide to you? Which brings me to THIS (holding up a cocktail dress the size of a tampon).  How was this supposed to help me celebrate New Year’s Eve?  I brought it as a hostess gift to a party with a nine-year old girl and she couldn’t even get her Barbie’s THIGH into it.

 “Oh, I DID put to use the ‘excellent-consumer bonus points’ you awarded me -- so in addition to getting 60 per cent off things already marked down, I got an EXTRA 30 per cent off. But did you really expect my husband to believe the sales receipt when it said we saved fifteen THOUSAND dollars?

“He was none-too-pleased I paid $589.00 for things I have to return, but get this:  your folks from corporate in some confederate state that should never have made it into the Union sent me a bill that was due before I tried anything on!

 “To avoid the 21 per cent interest, I paid half this bill – and now I owe interest on the other half -- for merchandise I am returning today.

“And thanks for giving me Counterfeit Store-X Bucks I was excited about using after the holidays. And I quote: 'For every $50 you spend before Christmas, you earn  $10 Store-X Bucks!'  Well -- I didn't notice I had to spend my $110 Bucks between December 27th and January 2. This is the worst annual week of my life, with all the house guests and the twelve step meetings someone invariably must be driven to and—"

By the time I get to my errands, I'm too exhausted from my internal dialogue to organize a Post-Christmas To Do list.
Which brings me back to Saint Valentine’s Day.

Fortunately, this hallowed religious holiday celebrates the ingestion of seratonin-releasing, endorphin spiking chocolate, fizzy champagne, expensive steak and its byproducts and, for us, an evening of post Dana-Farber Medieval-Machinery Blood Harvest GAMBLIN in Connecticut.  It would be sacrilegious to focus on a different religious holiday today.

Which means, I have until Saint Patrick’s Day to attend my straggling post-Christmas errands.

If I have learned one thing from my mother’s brushes with various incurable disorders and my husband’s myeloma, it is to be flexible. Nay, fluid. I can flex these errands all the way out to All Saints Day on October 31st.

So on this holy day, I wish to everyone a spiritual Saint Valentine’s Day. Remember to ignore your errands and focus heavily on alcohol abuse, the art of physical love, and a lot of dark chocolate – especially if you are single -- the way that God and Hallmark intended.