Things That Grow

The sky is blue, the sun is shining, and – the best part – the temperature is in the upper 70’s. I can take just about anything but heat – I hate it! Right now I’m in heaven.

Walking the kids to camp ever day we pass so many amazing gardens! Beautiful yards, plants, flowers – a fence made entirely of cultivated apple trees – folks here LOVE their greens!

Hannah’s taller, Max’s shoulders are filling out, our kids are growing. You don’t notice it for a while, then one day it just dawns on you how tall your kids really are. Hannah’s pretty much taller than Gerry right now.

I’ve put off contacting yarn shops where I’m teaching this Fall. Actually, not “put it off” as much as it’s just slipped past me. So finally I’m writing to each venue offering to gracefully let them off the hook if the idea of waiting for me to possibly cancel is just too nerve wracking.

A yarn shop is a narrow-margin business. Not many yarn shops owners I know are getting rich, most are happy to keep body and soul together and pay the rent (like all of us!)

I understand that between the extra planning and advertising and any other costs that may come up when engaging an outside teacher, it may be too much to expect a shop to keep dates open for me if I can’t guarantee that I’ll be there to teach.

Here’s the email I just sent to shops where I’m scheduled this Fall. I’ve already had to cancel a few engagements – I hope to be able to visit them in the future! – because I couldn’t handle the guilt that I’d be costing them any money. Guilt is like a weed, it grows if you don’t pull it out by the roots.

As you may have heard, my husband is very ill. He has been diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, a form of blood cancer which affects the plasma cells in the bone marrow. His prognosis isn’t great, but we’re hopeful. (We’d never heard of this type of cancer before, but we’ve become armchair experts in the past few months, as you can imagine!)

I’ve written privately to some of you regarding my Fall engagements – please know that I fully intend to honor each engagement.

However, I can offer no guarantees on my husband’s condition. Gerry is scheduled to have a Blood & Marrow Transplant (BMT) at the Mayo clinic in August with a 6-8 week convalescence in Rochester, then back home to St. Paul for further recovery.

Although we’re new to Minnesota – we just moved here in February – the fiber and knitting community has rallied around us tremendously and I feel that I have coverage for Gerry-and-Kids-care while I will be away at various teaching engagements this Fall.

But things don’t always work out the way we’d like. It’s possible that the transplant won’t “take”, that Gerry will have a bad reaction to some of the medications or that he might get an infection during his susceptible time.

For this reason, although I DO intend to be at each of your venues and teach my full slate of classes,
I cannot offer an iron clad guarantee
that things will go without a hitch.

If you’re okay with this uncertainty, then as far as I’m concerned our agreement is intact and I’ll see you at your shop.

Just drop me a line to let me know you’re aware of my situation and you’d be okay with me canceling rather late in the game if I need to. Obviously, the cancellation policy in the letter of agreement you signed and returned to me would be null and void and I would not expect you to pay anything for my fee or my transportation if I have to cancel so close to the teaching date.

However, if this level of uncertainty is a little too high for you, I totally understand! The demands of running a yarn shop bring their own set of worries, this may just be one worry too many. Please send me an email letting me know you’d prefer to cancel the engagement rather than wait it out in the hopes that all will go well.

I can’t give you any guarantees.

If you need a guarantee, it’s probably better to cancel my engagement than to create a situation where we both have more worry to deal with. You know best what level of uncertainly you’re comfortable with – after all, you have a business to run!

The worry surrounding this situation is immense. There is worry about the future, about the kids, about the mortgage and – obviously – my main worry is about Gerry. I just can’t add to that pile by taking on worry that I’ll be costing a yarn shop money, or disappointing folks terribly if my visit must be cancelled.

Please know that the only reason I would cancel would be if Gerry’s health had significantly deteriorated.

I think I’ve put this off because the ONLY reason I’d be canceling is if things don’t go well with the BMT. I don’t want to think about that. But the head can’t stay under the pillow forever, and it’s necessary to deal with this possibility in terms of how it will affect the shops that have hired me and my editors sooner rather than later.

I am DEFINITELY planning on being in France for the French Girl Knits retreat. The tickets have been purchased, I’m arranging child care coverage for those weeks, and dang it – I just want to go.

French Girl will be during the time that Gerry’s supposed to still be in Rochester, but nearing the end of that period. Gerry’s mom is flying in and she’ll be staying in our suite taking care of him for those weeks.

His sister may be able to fly in and be up in St. Paul with the kids when they return to MN for the start of school – but it’s looking iffy.

We’re actually trying to find an alternative (having the kids stay with local friends for that first week of school?) because Gerry’s sister is in the throes of job hunting and the timing really couldn’t be worse for her. If you’re on my Twin Cities helper list – especially if you live near me – and feel you could take a kid for a few nights let me know.

A good friend from NJ is flying in on 9/10 to be with the kids until I get back from France, so the dates that we need coverage are 9/2 – 9/10. It also wouldn’t be bad to keep them out of the house, staying with someone else, to give the contractor as much empty house time as possible! Oh heaven’s I just realized we need to arrange cat care!

The sad truth is, cancer comes at inconvenient times – but bills still have to be paid!

Those of you who have been kind enough to give us help during this period – THANK YOU! Most of those fund will go to our accommodations and to pay for flyi
ng the kids back and forth from MN to the East Coast for August, and for flying Gerry’s mom out to be with him.

Some of it also is just going to cover our mortgage, etc. We’re nearing the point in donations where our budgeted expenses will be covered HOORAY!

If we qualify for Social Security, it’s supposed to kick in sometime in October. It’s hard to imagine Gerry wouldn’t qualify, but weirder things have happened.

Once we hit that point I’ll post it on Gerry’s Multiple Myeloma’s page. If folks still want to purchase the Red Carpet Convertible, it will be available – but at a set price, not for a donation any more. For all intents and purposes, our needs will have been met then.

Our hope has been growing right along with our non-medical fund, thank you SO much!

Just this week the insurance company for Gerry’s former employer (Fox, where he was working when he initially visited the doctor about his bad back, the first symptom of the osteporosis that is a symptom of Multiple Myeloma) has agreed to pay the princely sum of $170 per week for short term disability.

They had been insisting that since that first doctor misdiagnosed the condition (he said it was a back sprain and prescribed physical therapy – which is probably how Gerry crushed his first 2 vertebrae) and that same doctor wrote a note to Fox TV that Gerry should be out of work for only 4 days. This was the diagnosis the insurance company said they had to accept. Insanity.

But apparently the letter from Gerry’s oncologist and our GP have finally convinced them to relent. So we’ll be the proud recipients of $170 per week – the NY State minimum, among the lowest in the country we’re told.

An interesting side note is that there was a form which Gerry’s GP had to fill out. The insurance company said that it had to be in within a certain number of days or we’d lose our eligibility. Gerry asked that they fax it to him so he could run it over to the doctor, and they said they would, but they faxed it to the doctor instead.

When Gerry & I stopped by to make sure it arrived – something we thought we didn’t need to do since the insurance company assured us it was faxed – we discovered that the form WAS sent, but with NONE of Gerry’s information so the doctor’s office had no idea who the form was to be filled out FOR!

It’s hard for me to believe, especially given the time sensitive nature of the form, that leaving Gerry’s info off the form was entirely accidental.

Cynicism grows like a tumor, too!

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!