Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Stories on tape? I must get my recorder set up in the bedroom for these moments of reminiscing.
Storytelling highlights; I’ll work on full write-ups later:
- German test taken for doctoral requirements. A free pass to take exam for grad students as a testing ground for a new national program. Three parts: German passages, English answers; German passages, German answers. and English passages, German answers. Dave was the first history grad student in 22 years to pass German on the first try! Dave is /was very proud of this accomplishment. If only he could have passed the Doctoral orals the first time. (I could feel his pain on this statement.)
- Dave’s teaching carer began the day after his 23rd birthday (first lecture). He expressed a bit of disbelief of how he knew what to do in the classroom that day. So he pretended he was Larry Gelfand, his Master thesis adviser at University of Wyoming throughout his first year of teaching! He never admitted before that he had to think he was Larry in order to get up and teach. “I never told him,” he said wistfully and with admiration. It was a year before he felt like he was his own teacher / lecturer. Dave is one of the best lecturers around in my humble opinion. A self-admitted ham, lectures are the best role an actor can play, he asserts.
I wonder how many people channel Dave when they begin to stand up and teach for the first time?
Dave talked on about his pride: Can he get back to the classroom? “I have a lot of pride. If I can’t teach at a certain level then I won’t go back. I’ve never had a time when I just couldn’t think.” Cancer does create a fuzziness for everyone, as we deal with the day to day health needs and the long range implications.
He stated outright that he “can’t.” Can’t has crept into his vocabulary, a word I don’t really recall him ever using. “Won’t,” “don’t want to”… but, not “can’t.”
Since we’ve learned there is cancer around his heart, I think back to how Tarceva targets cancer cells and that his pain in the first few hours was immense across his entire chest and specifically his left side from shoulder to ribs, plus he had a horrendous headache…can it be that there has been cancer in his brain and the Tarceva targeted it too? I prefer to remember that headache is a side effect.
On the call Friday, Dr. Slack told Dave that there is cancer in the rib, yet the bone scan might not have graphically shown the migration if it is inside the bone. It doesn’t mean the cancer has not spread. “It doesn’t mean that you’re not sick,” a nurse told Dave after a colonoscopy did not show any disease as they were trying to diagnose his illness that turned out to be Hodgkins. She seemed to know there was more below the surface than what that any test told us at the time.
There is no doubt that we, Dave and I both, prefer to see the optimistic view that can be found in any news delivered. I think that means we don’t hear all the details. Are the doctors saying things we don’t hear? Is that why it feels like we have been left out of some information like the anemia? Or do we really not get told? Is there an assumption that someone else told us as we jump from doctor to doctor to nurse? Did Dr. Williams explain the cancer around the heart way back in October and we didn’t remember? Did Dr. Lavanya just concentrate on the right lung spot because that is what she could treat?
Even at the same Doctor’s appointments Dave and I remember statements the other didn’t. Some of it is viewpoint – how will this affect my relationship to this disease? I think we can absorb only so much at any given moment.
Back to stories. They pop out of Dave and I just want to suck them up. This is why I keep my quick and perhaps cryptic notes here. This is the Storybooks for Healing side of me and my parallel path on the business of grief – as I write my angst, then there are stories remembered or recounted (or in this case since Dave is here; it promotes his telling as he has began a life review on his own). So I find myself bouncing between the grief and details of medical changes to documenting his and our life stories. I actually keep a separate file that I write out some of our stories for use in Dave’s storybook. Here I chronicle life as we know it; in the file are the unfolding stories of life itself.
I feel like I could write on and on, there’s so much in my head, but I also feel like I must attend so many other things to do. Work is difficult right now because I just want to concentrate on our little world. Then again work allows me some relief from worry. It is an intellectual exercise. My path is full of curves, some gentle, some sharp, some almost bring me to a standstill. I still have a difficult time envisioning where it leads.