The Worry Project

“Bobby Jo don’t worry ’bout nothin’!”

What good has worry done me, or you? Not one damn bit: what’ s coming is coming and there isn’t a thing you can do about it.  Sure, you can study books, save money, watch tv shows about what foods to eat (then eat those foods), you can watch the TV news (and go insane), you can vote, get politically active, smell the flowers, meditate, have coffee with friends, have dinner with family; but, nothing is going to change the fact that one morning you’re going to pull up your pants and put your shirt over your head and you are NOT going to repeat the proscess at the end of that same day.  Someone else is going to pull them off for you—poof that’s it.

So why worry?  I learned this lesson from a someone I read about named Bobby Jo Dennison.  He holed up in a local hotel room with his girlfriend or whore or whatever she was.  He decided he wasn’t coming out.  You think he was worried about retirement, his 401k, or his health insurance?  Hell no, he wasn’t worried ’bout nothin’ —his life goes on as carefree as the lilies of the field, or the birds of the air, which Jesus talked about in the New Testament.  Now, I don’t plan on threatening to cut off anyone’s toes or wear big jewelry, or my hat on backward, or have a teardrop tattoo, but I can try, just like Bobby Jo (and Jesus) not to worry.

Douggie Jo and Timmy Jo ain’t gonna worry ’bout nothin’ this week, as an experiment.  We’ll see what happens.

10 minutes after I posted this we got a call from Doug’s doctor’s office that his PET scan is scheduled for March, 12th…a month to the day after he was laid off.  This scan is to look to see the status of whether or not the cancer is gone.

Coincidence?  I think not.

Blood, Liver, Roller Coaster

Cancer treatment is a roller coaster ride.  You have to live in bits: bits of hours, bits of days…little tiny bits.  You don’t dare look ahead too far; life is micro not macro. 

Doug got a call from his nurse the other day:

“We want you to come in early for a blood test.”

“Is it anything I need to be concerned about?” he asked, near panic.

“It’s your liver enzymes.” the nurse flatly explained.

Anyone that knows cancer knows that it loves to spread to the liver.  When it spreads to the liver it often becomes deadly.  The familiar, cold-sweat panic sets in, you take a deep breath and the internal dialogue kicks in like a silent auction of life versus death.  The liver: we don’t want to visit the liver.

After three days of nail-biting, praying and waking in the middle of the night Doug got the word.  I heard the now ominous creak of the front door.  I was sitting in the same place I had been when he originally announced the unfathomable cancer diagnosis—the toilet.

I shouted, “Don’t tell me while I’m sitting here!”

My hand shook as it reached for the toilet paper, heart racing, sweat beading.  I tidied myself and emerged from the bathroom.

“My liver’s so fine, I can drink a glass of wine.”, he smiled, we hugged, I cried and I felt deep inside the first bit of hope I’ve felt through this entire hideous misadventure.

Today is Valentine’s.  We have no wine, but we have some time yet to celebrate.  Who wants to try to get into a restaurant on Valentine’s day anyway???  I will post our first toast.

Thanks to all of you!  We extend our love on this special “day of the liver”, more often associated with the heart, otherwise known as Valentine’s day.


The Shocker

February 12th was supposed to be “back to normal” day; but it turned out to be “slap in the face” day.  Doug spent the evening of February 11th with his usual pre-work routine.

  1. Making his lunch: usually a turkey sandwich, a piece of dark chocolate and a “healthy” sweet snack.
  2. Laying out his “outfit”
  3. Cold brewing his jug of green tea in the refrigerator

He tossed and turned in bed–he was excited like a schoolboy on the night before his first day back to classes.  I told him:

“It’s back to normal eve.”

He smiled, “I can’t go to sleep.”

I told him, “Maybe you should take half a pain pill.” (he had been diligently working at tapering off the medication even though his whole lower torso looked as if it had been seared with a torch.)  We serenely watched “The Great British Baking Show”, chuckling and commenting along the way, breathing the types of breaths one breathes when they know everything was going to be okay, soft, smooth and deep.  After watching numerous cakes fall apart, both of us finally drifted off to sleep.

He awoke and readied himself so quietly, I didn’t know that he was gone.  I got up after he had left thinking about how happy he must be to be back at work where he has a few really good people as coworkers.  I worried that he might be hurt as he moves literally nearly a ton of boxes each work day.  I knew he was happy–now matter how much it hurt.

I was taking my last sip of coffee, preparing to shower, when I heard the front door creak open.  It was Doug. I was shocked. I thought he said to me, “I’m not strong enough and have to go back tomorrow.”  Because I couldn’t believe the situation which he went on to explain.  What he had said was that he needed me to be “strong” for he had just been laid off, without warning, without honor, without sympathy, coldly, cruelly, shamefully on his first day back from a long and grueling fight with cancer which we didn’t know yet for sure was over.

I literally collapsed in tears as he tried to comfort me.  Imagine that, him comforting me.  He is a good man, kind, loving, forgiving and very, very strong.  He was more worried for me than himself.  I don’t care about his job, the money, the bills…I care about Doug’s honor and dignity and to see him degraded in this way both broke my heart and infuriated me.

Last night was really, really tough.  We both awoke in the night and talked for a while, both fearing not being able to go back to sleep again.  Doug was reading and I asked him what it was.  He said it was an advanced reader copy of something or other.  I said to him, “You still love getting those advanced reader copies don’t you?”

He smiled at me with the most sincere and wide grin:

“That’s why I love being a bookseller.”

My tears began a stream to see that smile and hear those words.

Back To Work, Back to Life, Back to Good Health

Doug is scheduled to return to work on February 12th.  He is looking forward to getting back to a routine he once cursed.  His job is very physically demanding: he literally will lift a ton of boxes and move them per day.  He has grown very soft, in a way, over the course of his cancer treatment; though the treatments have hardened him in other ways.  He is just not as physically strong as he was back in December. 

He is healing well.  His pain level is decreasing slightly each day.  He refused to take the last three radiation treatments.  He seemed literally terrified when he thought they were going to wheel him down to radiation while he was trying to get stabilized in the hospital.  He said he felt instinctively that his body was trying to tell him that no more treatments were necessary and the cancer was gone.

I know this whole process has changed him; but, he is still too close to the whole nightmare to really see just how much and in what way.  He had never been hospitalized for the first 52 years of his life.  He says it will be another 52 years so he won’t be in the hospital again until he is 104!  Now that’s the spirit!

Thanks to all who have shown their support for him along the way with their visits, cards, thoughts, and prayers. 

Doug will know nothing about the status of the tumor for about two more weeks, yet seems to know something in his heart.  Doug might well have said the quote below himself.

“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.”

— Buddha