Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Back in the Saddle. Now with More Perspective!

I have returned to Harvard-Vanguard for my six-month re-dose of rituximab, which, in case some of you have forgotten, is the chemo drug that is supposed to keep the Wegener's away.  My friend told me to think of it as "maintenance," but just being here makes me think back to the Spring and how lousy it all was.  Hard not to.  I'll be sitting here for about 4 hours by the time I'm done.  Not much to do but think.  Now that I've watched the latest episode of Walking Dead online.

What it really means is that I haven't been here for six months.  My last treatment was in April, and they told me that I would probably need another round in six months, and here I am.  Physically, I've been feeling very much like myself lately, back to work, gyming it, walking without feeling like I was going to suffocate... normal stuff.  Mentally, I've had this hanging over my head for six months, so in a way I'm glad it's here and I'm getting it done.  On the flip side, I have three more of these coming, and the small matter of there not being any long-term data on the effects of rituximab.  So, ten years from now, I may not have Wegener's, but I could have grown a second head because of all this.  I don't know whether I should be nervous or think that's really cool.

Getting back to normal as been a great thing (and it will be even greater when the steroids go down and I can get off most of these pills), especially when I think about how bad things were when I was in the hospital.  Six months really isn't a long time to recover from all that crap.  I am definitely appreciative of everything I have, especially the little things (Long-time readers may remember my description of how taking a shower was a total pain in the ass a few months ago when I had the chest tube.)  And yet, I find myself getting very upset when people make a big deal out of what I now consider insignificant details.  Especially issues that arise at work.  People keep referring to the "problems" they had last semester when I was gone, and I want to say, "You didn't have problems.  I had problems.  You just couldn't get sound to come out of a laptop." I realize that my job is important and I will absorb a tiny bit of the blame for not having anyone prepared for this kind of extreme circumstance, but I kind of doubt that anyone would have been prepared for it anyway.  It's not like I planned to be out for four months.  If it were anyone else, I'm sure there would have been   I still take what I do seriously, and most people at my job have been great and are really just glad to see me up and about, but it is human nature, I suppose, to focus on the negative sometimes.  The real truth, looking at it with a little perspective now, is that the audio-visual problems at CGS are small potatoes in the grand scheme of things.  Especially when you think about having a lung filled with gunk and draining it out with saline every six hours for days on end.  My apologies to the faculty, but that's the way it is.

Obviously, my rant is not going to change anything.  In fact, it's kind of sobering to think that my job itself, something I've done for hours and hours for over a decade, is kind of insignificant in that damn grand scheme.  But this is a good thing, actually.  It keeps me on a very even keel.  I have often said that I work to live, not the other way around, and that has never been more true.

Years ago, there was a big lecture going on with a guest speaker that was getting paid gobs of money to come and talk to the students of BU.  For whatever reason, our sound system was acting funny that day, and in the first few minutes of the lecture, I asked the faculty member who put it all together if he wanted me to interrupt the speaker to switch the microphone and see if that would solve the problem.  he said that it was fine the way it was, so I walked away.  However, several students complained, one even leaving an anonymous note on his door, saying "You should have listened to your sound man."  I felt pretty guilty about that, despite the fact the whole incident, even though I had done all I could.  The Dean of the college, and the most amazing boss I've ever had, gave me some great advice.  She said, "Life is long."  It's been ingrained in us to think that life is too short and we should play hard (or whatever that 80's slogan was.)  In fact, life is long.  I've just experienced the longest six months of my life, and now, to quote The Boss, "I'm ready to grow young again."

One down, three to go.  And then, look out world.