Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

Archive for the month “December, 2020”

Best Wishes For A New Year

I think the majority of us could not be more anxious to get the year 2020 over with, never to spoke of again.  Covid19 became the new worst word beginning with the letter “C”.

I was able to get some things out of 2020 that were positive.  An annual trek in January took my daughters on a detour through an actual “ghost” town, that is doing all it can at this point, at least developers anyway, to make it disappear.

A town in Pennsylvania called Centralia, famous in the area for having a coal fire burning underground for nearly 70 years, totally abandoned except for four remaining homes, had its main road closed off, deserted.  As the road no longer carried vehicles, soon vandals marred the highway, spray-painting the road until soon, it became a ritual for any visitor to the area, to leave a remnant of their visit in the form of graffiti.  This road would of course be called the “Graffiti Highway.”  Soon after our visit, the developer bulldozed dirt over the entire road, never to be seen again.  Our timing was perfect.

Another huge moment for me in 2020, was marking my 30th year, cancer free.  A party was held in my honor just before Covid started wreaking havoc.  Again, all about the timing.

Covid did take away from me as well, especially time, time with my daughters.  Until safety precautions were determined and implemented, travel back and forth was not a good idea given my vulnerabilities to the virus.

BUT, once the recommendations came out, I did manage to return to visits with my daughters again, safely, with minimal risks to each other.

2020 gave us a lot of time to think, and prepare.  We still do not know when the end point of this crisis will be, but we are now learning not only that we need to be able to move on, but how to do it safely, some would call it, “living with the virus.”  Honestly, it is not the first time we have faced a virus crisis, though clearly in my lifetime, this is the worst I have ever seen.

But here we are, finally getting to the year 2021.  And I already have so much on my calendar that I am looking forward to, Covid or not.  During this time period, I have made real progress writing my first book, based on survivorship, now two-thirds of the way finished.  I am looking forward to another great year writing this blog, and hopefully maybe making it a podcast.

Most importantly, I am looking forward to more time with my daughters.  I am so proud of how they have had to handle the diversity in regard to schooling, socialization, and more.  And they did it without complaining.  They knew the right things that had to be done.

Holy Cow!!!!  I just realized this year, I will be the father of an adult daughter.  Reality is setting in.  My emphasis on teaching and encouraging values, now turns to life survival lessons, about money and how to save it, spending wisely, negotiating, and to not be taken advantage of.  The decisions she soon faces are more serious, the rewards greater, but so are the consequences for any wrong decisions.

My younger daughter will also turn a milestone as well.  And as both of my daughters get older, they are learning more about what I have gone through in my life, through my cancer journey and beyond.  That images in the memory that make no sense, have a story behind them.  Those stories will become important to them because there will come a day, that they will need to know what I have gone through.  But that is a long way off.  I have graduations to attend and daughters to walk down the isle.

I wish everyone a Happy, Safe, and Prosperous New Year.  See you on the other side.

Marci – A True “Wonder Woman”

Wonder Woman!  Wonder Woman!
All the world is waiting for you and the power you possess
In your satin tights fighting for our rights
And the old red white and blue

Wonder Woman!
Wonder Woman!

Now the world is ready for you and the wonders you can do
Make a hawk a dove, stop a war with love
Make a liar tell the truth

Wonder Woman!
Get us out from under, Wonder Woman

All our hopes are pinned upon you, and the magic that you do
Stop a bullet cold, make the axis fold
change their minds and change the world

Wonder Woman!
Wonder Woman!

You’re a wonder, Wonder Woman!

Marci, this theme song from the 70’s super hero television show Wonder Woman was a song clearly written for you.  And for those of us who had the blessing of knowing you, our “Diana Prince,” we knew you as a true “Wonder Woman.”

This has been a difficult year for so many reasons, but toughest made by yet another passing of a fellow long term Hodgkin’s Lymphoma survivor.  Grief has been piling and piling on top over the last several months, normally occurring over a year instead.

Marci’s passing has affected me differently though.  The impact that she had on me, the way she lived her life, while clearly sad for the loss of a good friend, she “wrote” an amazing story with her life.

For many of us, treated for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma back before the turn of the century, especially during the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s, treatments were barbaric, and often considered by today’s standards, experimental in value, because though they worked, the long term effects that would develop, were never researched, leaving many of us struggling not only to find care for these issues, but even finding a doctor willing to try.  These issues could be minor, or quite severe.  Some might have been fortunate, not to have developed any.  Sadly, Marci had been one to develop serious issues which I won’t go into detail here, other than a few appropriate places.

But it is the way that Marci always presented herself, a common personality trait of a Hodgkin’s survivor, only presenting the “shell” of what we are dealing with as it is hard enough for us to deal with.  But Marci, she was one of a kind.

To describe Marci as colorful, is an understatement.  Marci and I first met several years ago on a support page for survivors of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.  I could tell she was going to bring a lot of life to our group.

Though out of privacy, I am not posting pictures of her family, she had a large family that she loved very much.  She also loved her pugs and activities abound.  One art project she was working on, actually a cross-over, was a jeep that was being decorated to reflect her persona of Wonder Woman.

Marci started this with our group long ago, and many group members jumped on that bandwagon, encouraging her, as our “wonder woman.”

This photo was from a post that I sent to her a month ago, as I was driving here in Florida, immediately making me think of her.

Sadly, Marci faced many issues from her Hodgkin’s past.  One of which was a battle with colon cancer.  This left her as a colostomy survivor as well.  But in case you could not tell from the above picture, Marci even managed to rock that situation in her own style, with her own “wonder woman” pouch.  Only Marci could pull that off.

And in spite of dealing with her own issues, as is coming among us Hodgkin’s survivors, she took time to help and support others advocating for childhood cancer and colon cancer.

Marci, you were truly one of a kind, with emphasis on the word “kind.”  And sadly, we know that “Wonder Woman” was mortal after all.  But all that you gave to us, especially to remember by, will be a blessing that will last forever.

“Wonder Woman!
Wonder Woman!

You’re a wonder, Wonder Woman!”

“Great”ful In 2020

Yes, I know that I spelled grateful incorrectly in my title.  That is why I put the word “great” in quotes.  I am grateful for the greatness that are our first responders and medical personnel.

I have countless friends involved as first responders, as nurses, doctors, and techs of various fields.

Though I have been involved in emergency situations that require assistance from first responders, I am not sure if if is something that I would be able to do on a daily basis.  I know that I have been on the receiving end, several times of being the victim of that 911 call, at least one time, at the most inconvenient of hours, early in the morning, like 4am early.  We see them on the news, daily, just doing their “job.”  Without a thought, they automatically, respond to calls involving car accidents, fires, falls, and thanks to 2020 and Covid19, putting their lives at even greater risk.

In Florida, it is common for all three first responders:  fire, ambulance, and police, to respond to a 911 call in preparedness to make sure all needs are met.  These people respond without reservation and without regard to their own safeties, all the while recognizing the dangers they are exposed to.

Then, there are the nurses, doctors, and techs.  The stories I have of what they have done for me over the years are endless.  Their lifestyles and work environments constantly played out on television series, does not serve them any justice for what it is really like for them.

From the patient’s point of view, I have witnessed their knowledge and skills.  I have seen their responses and their decision making ability.  As a patient, I have never seen someone show they are exhausted, physically or emotionally.  These people, are doing what they wanted to do, what they were meant to do.

These two groups, first responders and medical professionals, have one thing in common, they put their lives on the line every day for us.  To be clear, they do not have to.  They could easily choose a different career path.  They just do not.

So, when a once in a century emergency comes up, and we have to rely on these heroes, and we are asked to make the most simple of efforts, not because it will make the situation disappear, but prevent it from going out of control, we need to do what we can.

I have made no mistake in stating, mask wearing is not 100% effective in preventing Covid19, but it is nearly 100% effective in reducing the risk of spread.  I wrote a post on the various masks, and the efforts necessary to wear even the most effective mask properly, unlikely by the average person not trained to do so.

In the beginning, we were recommended, to just try, for three weeks to minimize contact and interactions.  Too many scoffed and here were are ten months later in worse shape than ever, in lives lost, lives impacted, and the economy.  Please, someone explain to me, how ignoring this pandemic for ten months, made more sense than trying to do something positive for the three weeks we were asked to do so.  Because it does not.

Most of us have no idea what it was like before the measles vaccine, and likely only our parents remember what it was like before the polio vaccine.  And not many were still alive during the last pandemic of 1918.

I am baffled.  When our country was attacked on 9/11, we ALL did what we had to, to protect ourselves.  It did not matter what political party we belonged to or ideology we believed in.  We made the sacrifices we needed to, to be safe.

We have now lost 100 times as many lives as 9/11, attacked by one of the most evil situations we have ever seen.  And yet, we are still split, fighting each other, to protect our political leans over what science has finally learned.  And as we do this, we continue to put those first responders and medical personnel at risk, not just of themselves being exposed to the virus, but taking it home to their families, perhaps they have children with compromised immune systems or other pre-existing situations, or elderly parents.

I get it.  We are tired, fatigued of Covid19 every day, the news never seeming to improve.  But it can, and it is improving.  We have the easy part, just do what we are being asked to do.  Those heroes that respond and take care of us are doing what should be the hardest part, but it seems like getting over our selfishness and arrogance is much more difficult.  And it should not be.  Our first responders and medical personnel have the most difficult part, taking care of us.

I have made it a point, every time I have been a patient, whether for a procedure, a test, or even just a consult, I appreciate everything my nurses, doctors, and techs do for me.  I have gone back and visited the first responders who have taken care of and transported me to the hospital, to let them know the difference that their effort made, and that there was a good result.

But as I continue to do all that I can, with what I have been asked to do, to avoid careless exposure to Covid19, I hope never to need any of you for this response.  And since I continue to keep this status, and I will not get to see you in person, I will just take the time here to tell you all that I appreciate and am grateful for everything you do.

Here’s hoping for a better year in 2021.

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