I have a nice, comfy couch. We used to have a good relationship. I was anxious to see it, pull up a pillow and snuggle in to watch my Red Sox crushing opponents. But things have changed between my green couch and I. We spend far too much time together. I no longer look forward to seeing it and I am sure, by the muscle aches and tender spots it now pushes on, that my couch dreads seeing me coming. But, we’re both stuck here. Things have changed. Everything has changed. Even my Red Sox decided to stop playing in September and roll over to let the Evil Empire (Yankees) make them look like a Little League team.
My sisters want to buy me a recliner to prop me up so I stop drowning in all this ascites fluid. I can’t make myself get excited about a new perch added to my metal bird cage. Even though I love how they care for me, I hate the idea of a new place to sit, lie, sleep or doze. Each new “disability” device, no matter how useful, feels like another nail in my coffin. As much as each gadget could improve my quality of life, it makes me feel less and less independent.
I get wheeled to my doctors visits and from test to test. The other night I got left in the waiting room while the receptionist turned off the lights and put up a “closed” sign. While I sat there unable to change a disturbing Dr. Oz show, wearing my open-backed johnnie, my sweet wife wandered into another part of the hospital to find some help. She found a kind woman who wheeled me out of the day surgery unit into the regular hospital radiology department that never closes. It was a good hike but she and Robin chatted about rain and weather while I rolled forward.
We found a nice woman who immediately took me for my 7th or 8th September chest xray. The picture showed a nice improvement with about 50% of my left lung now being visible after my 2nd chest drain in a week. The radiologist said, “Wow, so this is better?” (my charming banter convinced her to let me take a peek.)
With my new ability to breathe, Robin wheeled me back to our car slamming my feet into this corner and that. I confess, I was messing with her by playing with the brakes. I told her it was obvious that her first husband had been an amputee by the way she drove a wheelchair. (Of course, having been together since we were 19, I know I’m her first and only husband.) She laughed at me and swatted my arm.
When we got back to the house, my green couch scowled at me. It hadn’t missed me at all. We had visitors, ate some delicious pork roast my CIA Chef son, Donald Jacob, had prepared and went back to life as usual:
6:00 AM Pill #1
7:30 AM Pill #2 taken with some food
8:30 AM Pill #3 and #4, inhaler and nasal spray
11:30 AM Pill #5
3:30 PM Pill #6
8:30 PM Pill #7, #8 and inhaler
11:30 PM Pill # 9 with some food
Then, depending on need, pain pills and anti-nausea pills to try to keep the pain pill down.
Now, this morning, I will soon go from lying here in bed to the dreaded green couch where I will spend most of my day eating pills. Ugh.
If I endure, there’s a long, hard road of a liver transplant ahead. I Googled “ascites” and “liver” yesterday to read that there is a 30-40% 5-year survival rate after ascites fluid appears. That means 3 or 4 people who develop ascites are still around 5 years later. Google is more evil than the Yankees.
In 5 years I would be just 53. I might have a grandchild or two. I might get to celebrate another wedding or two with my sons beginning new lives. A lot can change in 5 years.
Heck, in five years that wretched green couch will be in the recycling stream somewhere. I think I’d like to see it dragged away.
New liver, new energy, new couch and a return to independence? I certainly hope that’s what my future holds. Tee-ball games, dance recitals, a vacation with the love of my life not needing to maneuver a chair around corners. Watching my kids get their doctoral degrees, celebrating the opening of my son’s new restaurant by ordering off the menu… I want to be here to join in. Life is such a gift.
Sure, I know, heaven will be great. But you know what? Life is pretty great too.
Please, for me, do something this weekend enjoying the people you love. Ride bikes, picnic, hike or go to a park. Clean the house another time. Close that deal Monday. Put the laptop in a closet. For me … LIVE today and squeeze every energizing, memory-making drop out of it.
Okay couch … here I come….
Hi Scott. You don’t know me. I met you months ago in the church office with my two kids in hand and told you we are praying for you. Just read your post, tears came to my eyes, still praying for you. I want to tell you that God is good and that he has a plan for your life and that he knows all you are going through, but for some reason it sounds so shallow, so unsympathetic, and so I type it and I delete it and I type it,..so just know I am praying for you!! God bless you today!
I rode bikes with the love of my life today in the beautiful almost-fall weather. I admire how you handle what your life is throwing at you, Don (sorry, I still think of you as Don from high school). You are optimistic but pragmatic. I love that you look life in the eye and get strength from your family and your faith. I lost my dad to colon cancer almost a year ago and I wish I had known what he was thinking and feeling. Writing your thoughts in your blog is a way for those of us not living it with you and your family to connect and to send our positive thoughts your way – positive thoughts for you to experience everything there is for you to experience, learn what there is for you to learn, and help us learn what you can help us learn.
Thanks so much Neelam. Facebook is a wonderful thing. I am so happy to see that you still have that joyous spirit and beautiful smile. I can almost hear your contagious laugh from those days in the high school photo lab.
Seize the day Seize whatever you can
Cause life slips away just like hourglass sand
Seize the day pray for grace from God’s hand
That nothin’ will stand in your way Seize the day
Well one thing I’ve noticed wherever I wander
Everyone’s got a dream he can follow or squander
You can do what you will with the days you are given
I’m tryin’ to spend mine on the business of livin’
So I’m singin’ my songs off of any old stage
You can laugh if you want HA’ll still say
Today God has appointed the couch as your stage-so keep singing
Carolyn Arends song “Seize The Day”-(Carpe Diem)
Prayers for you.