Everything’s different for us

I have, many times, said that Tim’s cancer diagnosis felt like a huge meat cleaver coming down and separating us out from the rest of the crowd. Our lives were no longer normal. MM changed everything. Today was one of those days that drives that point home. After dropping Liv at school, I came home and Tim and I got into a conversation before he left for work. He’s had a rough few weeks. Our employee wound up sick 2 weeks ago and came in that way. Tim asked him to stay home the next day because he did not want to get sick but it was too late, he came down with it a few days later. Then, our employee wound up in the hospital having hand surgery due to an infection that formed when he got a splinter (working on a side job of his own) that he did not get all the way out. He is now out on temporary disability and my husband is doing the job of 2 men, while sick.

If you have followed my blog, then you know that it is my belief that my husband’s MM was caused by the chemical exposures of being a wood flooring contractor for almost 3 decades now. Tim prefers to think it was just fate. I have heard of others in the same business getting MM, via the myeloma Facebook sites, but I don’t tell him. It does not help him to think he did this to himself by not wearing protective gear. But this morning, as he was about to leave for work, he was exhausted and just wanted to go back to bed. He said, “I have to kill myself to make a dollar” and the words were like that damn meat cleaver going right through my heart. For others, that is a figurative saying, for us, it’s probably true. The way he made his living may literally cost him his life. UGH. PAINFUL to know that. I told him to become a cop. Why didn’t he listen? I told him to wear the respirator. He didn’t listen then either.

At 10 am, I had to go back to school and pick Liv to bring her to an orthopedist. She has had knee issues since her growth spurt 4 years ago and they have not resolved. I was not too worried, so many of her friends have the same thing and her pediatricians have checked her out. But the pain has been bad enough that, at her last physical, her doctor and I decided it’s time to have a real trained eye look at them. So, we went this morning. What a great guy. He was SO nice to Liv. But, for us, or at least me, this appointment did not go down like it would in a normal family. I had to download paperwork and fill it out ahead of time. It asked questions about her parents’ history, which included whether either of us had cancer. I had to answer that Tim did, wrote to the side of the checked box that it was MM. Then, because I learned the hard way that you can NEVER be sure, not even with doctors, I had to write a note and staple it to that sheet, knowing the doc would glance at it before he came in the room. It said, “Please note !!! I do not want my husband’s cancer discussed in front of our daughter. The doctor has no way to know exactly how much information we have shared with her about it.”  I folded the sheets in my purse so she could not see them. The thought that he could say anything in front of her about having to rule out MM due to the family history made my blood run cold. When we walked into the waiting room, I pointed to the seats furthest from the desk and said “wait here.” I then went to the desk, placed the sheets in front of the gal, and said quietly to her, “the doctor must see this note and please do not read it out loud.” She said, “OK.”  Despite knowing in my heart that this knee issue was nothing serious, you cannot be totally at ease about it. I have heard of too many teenagers with MM. I have heard of too many families that have multiple cases. I recently read that many MM’ers have joint pain too. I heard years ago that when MM is the familial form, it can hit the next generation 10 years earlier than it hit the previous one. Tim was 43 when dx’ed and had it for a while before diagnosis. As parents, you always have that worry in the back of your mind. Between Tim’s cancer and all my health issues and scares over the years, no doctor appointment is ever “normal” for us. A lovely nurse took Liv to do x-rays. I stood in that exam room alone, praying
the whole time. In times like these, praying takes a form that seems more like begging. My prayers were, “Please God, we’ve been given more than our share of grief to deal with. I don’t even know if this poor child remembers her life before this tragedy with Tim’s MM hit. Have mercy on us, Please. NO MORE TRAGEDIES.” They came back into the room and another nurse was loading the x-rays up on the computer screen right in front of us a few minutes later. I was afraid to look. I knew if I saw so much as one dark circle or heard the term lytic lesion, I was going to lose it and someone would have to peel me off the floor. I waited for the doc to get there and looked. Thank Heavens, she is fine. Her x-rays looked great and she has this common “travelling patella” issue that so many girls have and even women into their 20’s. In doctors’ terms- bilateral patellofemoral syndrome. In my terms, mercy.

After getting her lunch, I drove her to school. There is a gal she is friends with that she and her friends sometimes find irritating. We know their whole family well. They go to our church and Tim has done floors for several of them too. This girl’s aunt is dying. I just spoke to her father(it’s his sister) in church yesterday. His mom had to move in to care for her and they have stopped all treatment. She has metastatic liver cancer. They thought she beat it a few years back. It returned. I told Liv, “I know that Britt can be a pain, but be nice to her. Her aunt is dying.” This is a childless aunt who is always so great to her nieces and nephews, so I compared her to my sister, who is similar that way. I said this is a horrible thing. Britt’s grandmother is watching her child die and it’s hard for all of them. I told her that everyone has their trials in life and you should always remember that and try to be kind.

One of her favorite songs had come on the radio and we laughed because the first line is, “when your legs don’t work like they used to” or something like that. Having just found out that her patellas go places they’re not supposed to, she told me that she and her friend, Emily, who has the same thing, always point to their knees when they hear the line. I told her that she is a very lucky girl and to remember that if you have your health, that’s the most important thing. I said what you have here is a common thing and no big deal but there are so many kids dealing with poor health or serious learning disabilities, and she knows some. I said, “you have none of that. Your brain works great and your body too. You are a lucky girl. Be grateful for that Grace in your life.” I hope some of these things I tell her sink in to that brain of hers. The kid doesn’t listen to me much. But, it’s hard to have that thought run through my head, silently, whenever I tell her something like this, because her luck isn’t great where her dad’s health is concerned. And his bad health is enough to severely affect her life. Very sad. Very hard. Everything is different for us. Every situation is changed because MM is in the picture. And it’s just something we have to deal with. For today, my husband and I are holding on to the fact that she is healthy. We know not every parent can say that about their kid right now. We are grateful. We are blessed. And we move forward.