Today….things were put into perspective for me! I mean REALLLLLLY put into perspective. To put it frankly, I’m humbled.
Today is my birthday (which all of you already know—I mean I have a bazillion “Happy Birthday’s” on my facebook wall today) THANK YOU for all the cyber-space love by the way! It definitely kept me busy during my treatment today…which is what I’m going to be talking a little bit to you about. Today, I cried….yes, I cried-let me explain! Instead of cake and ice cream, I was served a bit of humble pie!
Long story short I had scheduled a doctors appointment for myself to see a blood specialist. If any of you know how hard it is to sometimes get an appointment with a “specialist” it can sometimes take months and months. Coincidently, Greg had scheduled his wisdom teeth to be taken out on the same day via sedation and needed ME to drive him home. We had to call my Grandfather at the last minute because neither of us wanted to reschdule for fear that it would take FOREVER to get an appointment. I actually called just to see if I could reschedule and the nurse on the phone had pulled my chart and was very persistant that I try my hardest to make it down. So we went our separate ways….Greg with my Grandfather and me by my lonesome self.
Before I continue, I’ll just explain that I’m having an issue with my iron, hemoglobin, thyroid….so I’ve been going thru a series of tests over a course of the past year to try to “figure out” what’s going on. Basically, I have no energy, I always feel tired and worn out and well….I’m just darn right tired of feeling tired. I mean I have a full time job, run a business, have a 6 year old and maintain a house…so I should be tired-right? Well, not THIS kind of tired. Soooo that’s the nutshell…my levels are at a low of 13 which should be AT LEAST in the 200(ish) range. I’m gimpy-what can I say!?
When I arrived I was under the impression that I was there for a consultation to go over my blood work..blah blah blah. Towards the end of the consult (when I thought I was about ready to go home and meet up with Greg at the dentist office) he broke the news. “I’m not sure you will be going directly home right now, I’m insisting that you stay for a IV transfusion.” OK no problem (i’m thinking) this shouldn’t take too long—WRONG… 4 hours! 1 hour to check to make sure I”m not allergic to the IV and the other 3 hours to actually DO the transfusion”. So change of plans, I was staying. Want to know what went thru my mind….”CRAP, I forgot my IPad, this is going to be so boring, what an inconvenience, this is my birthday, I need to be home editing, I skipped breakfast and now I’m going to be starving, did I place that order for so-and-so?”….all of these things-non important things really, but these are the things that were flooding my mind. I’ll admit, I was a bit annoyed.
The nurses walked me over to “THE ROOM”. The room where everyone who is receiving their daily, weekly or monthly chemo treatments (among other things). The staff was so friendly and welcoming. They all knew that it was my first time and there was a friendly face around every corner-including the patience -which I will get to. She briefly shows me around, “here are the snacks and drinks, here are the books/magazines-you may want to grab one, you’ll be here a while, the bathrooms are over there and you can choose ANYYY seat you want that is open. Get settled in and I’ll be over to get you started”. I choose a seat by the window, selfishly, I thought it would be a great seat to just stare out the window and zone about all the things I still had to do at home and for the business. No one was back there and I could be ALLL by myself. As I walked past everyone to get to my seat-which happened to be clear across the room-I couldn’t help but notice how many people where there. Most of them bald, some of them wearing wigs but everyone of them had big cheerful eyes and a warming smile. Sheepishly I walked by everyone and to my seat and home for the next 4 hours.
It was then after I got settled just as the nurse instructed that I really got to take it in. *I* was there merely for an iron deficiency, to have a IV transfusion but ALL these other people were here in their various stages of cancer. *I*, the one that was SOOO annoyed that I had to stay there a few extra hours out of my day, and *THESE* folks, they were there hanging on to every last string of life they could fight for. It was like a brick wall—I got up, went to the bathroom and cried. I mean I CRIED! I felt soo selfish. The worst problems I could think of in my own life were grains of sand to these people and yet…..they weren’t ANNOYED, they were cheerful, hopeful and soo soo so very welcoming. I was so humbled.
I composed myself and got back to my seat and as the nurse asked me if I was ok, a man named Charlie sat down in the seat beside me. He had the happiest smile every, carried a bag with personal items and he looked like a veteran to the Cancer Center. He sat his bag on the ground and looked directly and me and said, “oooh HI” and stuck out his hand to introduce himself. I found that after chatting with him for the first hour that he comes into the Cancer Center daily at the same time in between his bus routes (he’s a high school bus driver) to get his treatments. He tells me about “his story” and how he found out he had cancer, what it’s been like for him and how it’ affected his life-he has melanoma and he found it during a work required checkup . A perfect stranger but yet I felt like I knew him so well. In walked another woman by the name of Marry, got comfy in another seat near by, she was immediatly began to tell “her story” of breast cancer and how SHE found it after seeing a poster on the wall at the hospital when taking her mother for out patient surgery.
It sounds cheesy….but I walked in there feeling so alone and yet I walked out with two new friends. We laughed, we joked and we smiled….IN THE CANCER TREATMENT CENTER. That boggled my mind. He told me how he was grateful to have done the things he did when he was younger, that he holds onto the those memories and that there was a handful of things that he wished he would have had the courage to do “back then”….because in the end, worrying about the money, what others would have said, how they would have judged him doesn’t matter. She went on to say a few of the same things….and then I began to tear up this time in front of them. Those things he talks about …”worrying about the money, what others would have said, how they would have judged him…were exactly how I feel sometimes. Sometimes we are afraid to follow our dreams for those very reasons….when in the end we should be doing what makes us happy, what creates memories, what leaves us with NO REGRETS. He said he has no idea how much longer he has, but he knows one thing…..he’s not going to sweat the small stuff.
I left that place humbled. I hope that I get to see them again when I continue to go down for my next monthly transfusion. I think this time, I’m going to leave my IPad at home on purpose. 🙂 Generally, I wouldn’t have chosen that way to spend my birthday, stuck with needles in a Cancer Center getting IV transfusions….but in all honestly, it was the most meaningful birthday I think I’ve EVER had!