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November 19, 2004 - Friday, 3:30 a.m.
It's cloudy, cold and whispering of winter again. It’s supposed to snow this weekend. Would be lovely if it would snow enough to give me a few days off from work, but that is highly unlikely.
Why is it that some people continue to have the same tests? In the early 80’s my uncle Ralph had a small heart attack. He went into the hospital and it became apparent that he needed bypass surgery. One afternoon in fall of 1980 my uncle checked into a hospital in Denver and had bypass surgery on his heart. The operation went off very well. The doctors marveled at how strong his heart was, they had nearly been unable to get it to stop beating. He recovered from the surgery, but something wasn’t right. He didn’t seem to be recovering quite right. He lost quite a bit of weight, and as he’d been a little heavy, this was a good thing at first. But it continued, and he began to get sick. Not earth shattering illness, but irritating ones. The doctors seemed unable to pinpoint what was wrong. It was a little thing here and a little thing there. My cousins began pouring over diagnostic texts. They bought Merck manuals. They searched. When they would go into the doctor’s office, my Aunt (Beverly) and Uncle began to come armed with their own diagnosis, to assist the doctor. Eventually, like every person I know out of the Midwest, where I am originally from, they packed up some clothing and arrived at the Mayo Clinic for some assistance pinpointing what was wrong with him. They did a battery of tests, and then the doctors argued about who would ask Ralph if he was gay. Ralph was a gruff sort of guy; he had a deep voice and often looked intense, almost angry. What sort of questions were these? Of course he wasn’t. No, he’d never. Why were they asking? AIDS. He was the 9th transfusional AIDs patient diagnosed in the US, the first in the state of Colorado. They tracked it back to some bad blood administered during his bypass surgery. Until the Spring of 1985 they poured over the Merck manual, they fought every illness he got. His kids sat at his bedside, holding his hand. He was unconscious, fighting seizures. Like a hundred times before they told him he could do it, to just fight a little longer. It was a hard day, the kids took a break. They stepped out to get something to eat and Beverly sat down next to him. Holding his hand she told him it was okay to let go, that they’d fought a good fight. He quietly passed away with only his wife at his bedside. My aunt’s family rebuilt their family spirit. It was a hard blow, but they recovered. Then in the early 90’s Beverly got sick. They dusted off the Merck manuals and began the process again. This time the doctor’s found it pretty quick. Lymphoma. Again, as a family they pulled together. Reading anything they could get their hands on, they found treatments to try. She did Chemo. They tried new drugs. But in the end, she died quietly in a hospital in Denver, all her kids at the hospital, my mother at her bedside. It was a tough test to lose their parents like that, fighting illness, a tough battle against an often unbeatable opponent. It was unbearable, but they pulled together and got through it.
Now, my cousin, Kathy had a rough marriage. After 20 years she finally ended that marriage, and now a few years later has found a man she loves very much. A sweet man. A good man. A man fighting cancer. I was talking with my mother this weekend. Kathy's fiancé, Steve, has spoken to the doctor again recently and his prognosis isn’t good. The cancer has come back and it is a virulent strain. Though not active at the moment, it is lurking there, perhaps a couple more years, if they are lucky. The books are open again; perhaps a new treatment will appear on the scene. Prayers. Hope. That same hope… the hope against AIDs, the hope that a new medication would make it in time. Then again with the lymphoma, a fervent hopes that a cure would come. Again, it didn’t, not in time and not yet. Now this?! Kathy was talking to my mother and told her to the effect that this time she is unwilling to lose, that she can’t bear it again. Why? Why? Sometimes… well, quite often… I do not understand how life works. Why do some people battle the same battle over and over again? I mean, I know it is helps a person grow. I know that it does that… but somehow it just doesn’t seem fair. My heart aches for her.
See? Somehow, a little financial woe doesn’t seem so bad.