Martha took me in this morning. Jerry felt he needed to be there but I forced him to go play golf, wrenching his arm almost out of its socket. I convinced him by reminding him how I cherish one on one time with my daughters, and if he came Martha would have to leave because Spa Chemo at Texas Oncology only allows one visitor at a time.
Martha has amazing empathy: when the Benadryl kicked in through my IV line she immediately fell asleep, letting me know it was time for my nap! I was able to report to Jerry that Martha also proved to be a good urban food forager for lunch. So we did just fine.
Dr. Smith said I am in great shape but it's clear I'm one of those who will need a white cell booster shot after each chemo. She says it's common and nothing to worry about, just means I need to go back tomorrow for the injection, which has its own side effects. Personally I am so much stronger than when I went in for chemo I can't help but hope that the effects from the chemo will be much less than they were with the first one.
But truth: you can't predict. Overall my arc was: Chemo, one great day (thank you steroids), two miserable days, one tired day (but able to go to see Lincoln and enjoy it), and then steadily feeling better and actually good at least part of each subsequent day. I got two white cell injections and had one bum day but otherwise the main symptom is fatigue, which sometimes comes on suddenly, maybe even right after I get up and have my coffee. Then I have to rest. Unpredictable.
That said, walks with Jenny have been a terrific boost, because she has had to go out at least six times a day and each outing is 10-15 minutes at a minimum at a fast clip. We have covered as much as 1.5 miles on a single outing, so it's a great way to build stamina. And oddly, I have yet to have to wave down a ride back to Benedict House during a walk with Jenny! Go figure.
Now I am going to embarrass Jerry.
I'm not surprised, as this is not the first medical crisis we have been through together, but I am amazed anew by his understanding, tenderness, concern and care for me. As I tap away, he is preparing a dinner of blackened salmon, wedge salad, Brussels sprouts, and gnocchi! He is my best buddy in the journey of life.
We have settled into a wonderfully amiable stage of our relationship that endures through thick and thin, and we've had plenty of that along the way. We laugh often and loudly, we argue heatedly and unfairly, we get excited reading the same book and loving it.
John Paul II wrote beautifully, truthfully, and compassionately on the mystery of the gift of one's self in marriage–“self” encompassing body, mind, and soul. (Interestingly, those self-same elements with which we are bidden to love God.)
We have learned much about forgiveness, not only of others but of ourselves on this journey. Not a week goes by in which the recitation of the general confession at Church does not apply in some way to us as a couple, but neither does a week go by in which First Corinthinians 13:4–8 does not equally apply.
We realized soon after we set out to build Down Home Ranch that there is a power that mystically arises out of the vows of a married couple and out of the reality of their union, whether those vows are to love one another even when you just don't feel the love, or to build something together–a family, a business, a Ranch for the fruit of that union and others like her.
“A cord with three strands will not be broken.” Thank you God, for being the tie and that third cord that has bound us together for 40 years, even when we didn't really know you. Thank you for allowing us to see our “children and our children's children standing tall and strong as young olive trees around our table,” and to see the community of Down Home Ranch become what we first envisioned it to be.