Thursday, July 9, 2015

Happy Horse Manure

Today I'll clean the bathrooms. Today I'll mow the lawn. I'll take out the compost and go to the store. I'll play Minecraft and have sword fights and gun battles and snuggles and movies. I'll have a glass of wine. Tomorrow I'll catch a concert and then have some folks over.

Sometimes I read my posts and think, "Do people believe me? Do they believe that I really see everything this way, or do they think this is phony cult-of-positivity bullshit?" Heck, sometimes I wonder if life is really that good.

But it is. It really is.

Do you know what happened a year ago today? This:

I still don't know the young woman whose bone marrow cells are in that bag. I won't know her name for another year. Another year from today. I won't ever know if she saved my life. The crazy thing about my transplant is that, when I went into the hospital to go through that hell, and truly it was, I was healing. I was in full remission, and I felt great. There was no certainty that the cancer would come back without the transplant, and there is no guarantee that it won't come back having had it. The numbers favored the procedure, but we've gotten so blinded by statistics in medicine that many have lost sight of how little those numbers actually tell us about what diseases are and what makes people susceptible, or sick, or well. Cancer treatment relies heavily on prayer, and the doctors are praying as hard as everyone else. I came very, very close to not having the procedure. Closer than most people in my life know or would have wanted to know.

But I did it. In the end, I did it. I did it because I wasn't going to have all the answers ever, and so I closed my eyes and picked a door. I'm still here to tell the tale.

I know how many times I nearly died. Three. The first time was when I went into septic shock. The second time was when I had pneumonia. The third time was when I developed venal occlusive disease. Every round of chemo is a reckless dalliance with death, a brutal obliteration of the life force and then a tenterhooks tiptoe of apologies and beseechings that it will recover and forgive.

What a gift, the opportunity to experience, to know, how fine an edge is on that knife, how fragile and robust life is and how filmy the veil that sways between. And then to clean the bathroom!

For a long time after my transplant, the doctors told me not to eat uncooked foods. They told me not to clean the bathrooms, or to mow, or to vacuum. They told me not to go to stores, or concerts, or parties, or to drink wine. Every time I do one of those things, it is something I have back, something new and shiny. Every game of tag or darts or Minecraft is a second chance, a third, fourth, fifth, sixth.

Every pile of manure sits atop a vein of gold. Every shovelful I take digs down to diamonds.

Happy Rebirthday to me!