Ladies & Gentlemen, LIVE from the Mayo!

Some of the music they play around here is pretty amusing. As we walked into our first appointment this morning, we heard the Longine Symphonette version of What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life?

I’m not sure if anyone else caught it in the waiting room – it was a pretty florid arrangement and you had to listen carefully to understand it. How ironic, though…

Someone burning the cd’s around here has a pretty good sense of humor.

A pianist plays in the lobby of the Mayo building during lunch hours. She obviously loves what she’s doing, the pedestrians hurrying from one building to another converge in front of her piano and look as if they’re doing a crazy waltz. This must be the Grand Central Station of health.

As Gerry and I turned a corner – me with the ‘step-side step-hop’ that I always seem to be doing these days to avoid tripping over his wheels – I almost ran into an older man who smiled at me and said, “With this music we could be dancing!”

He had a strong, kind face. I found myself hoping that he was here for himself, and not for a loved one. I think deep down it’s easier to deal with our own illness rather than see someone we love become very sick.


Watching people’s faces is interesting. Older folks – those in their 70’s and above – are relatively non-plussed. Some seem to enjoy the activity and the very kind interactions with the Mayo staff.

This must be the point in life when all that much touted wisdom and experience kick in – thank heaven – and you realize that sometimes you’re just along for the ride, so you may as well enjoy it!

Folks in their 40’s – 70’s are either accompanying a younger family member (in which case they look a lot better than I’d look – but still, they’ve got that ‘must get through this’ set to their jaws.) Or – like Gerry – they may be patients themselves.

The patients are obvious because their accompanying party consists of a worried looking spouse, furrow browed siblings or oblivious children.

Younger folks, in their 20’s & 30’s, seem to be the most upset – definitely the most irritated. If their time is cut short, then by god get OUT of their way! I guess this makes sense, as they are much too young to be seriously ill, or to lose someone to a serious illness.

There are a few kids – mostly children and grand children of patients. While we were waiting for Gerry’s echocardiogram there were some siblings running amok – apparently waiting for grandma – whose father was a sort of ‘hands off’ type of parent.

It was the only time today a waiting room seemed loud. The Mayo staff member who addressed the dad was SO gracious and kind – I wish I had her diplomatic skills! I just kept knitting all day (even when the lights were turned out so the tech could do Gerry’s echo – knitting in the dark!)

Here’s proof that Gerry has a heart. The desk clerk told me I have, “The nicest husband!” She’s right.

I haven’t seen many worried looking children – thank god – plenty of time for all that later. What the artwork, kind (very kind) folks, music and magazines can’t obliviate is the knowledge that we, every one of us, is here because we are or are involved with someone who is very sick.

Not just any sick, Mayo Sick. But there’s a lot more hope here than worry on the faces I’ve seen.

This is not where folks come who have a simple urinary tract infection. Mayo Sick is having been to another facility and have been referred here for the excellent care. Folks who come here seem to have been through the system – some system – and are scarred in various ways.

Gerry and I – we’re just giddy. We’re usually pretty giddy together, even after almost 14 years, unless we’re in pissy moods. Today we’re scared, and that makes us laugh like nervous adolescents. Gerry’s first test was a bone marrow biopsy, which had been – to date – his most painful experience up in St. Paul.

I delight in asking him, “Painful, yes – but how does it compare to childbirth?” (You got nothing on me, Landy…)

On the wall was an electronic billboard type of readout – how medical folks keep track of what patient is in which room. Gerry said it was really the Powerball numbers.

I thought it was a new form of Bingo – “MAYO!” It’s only 4 letters, so it takes less time…

What are YOU doing the rest of your life?


Gerry was out cold for the test, he’s not supposed to make any legal decisions for the rest of the day. The procedure was so quick, relatively pain-free, and he was up and coherent in 20 minutes, walking around like he’d just had a nap. Amazing.

They do more BMT’s [Bone Marrow Transplants] here than anywhere else, if you do something a lot you get good at all of the pre-procedure testing stuff. Anything that saves Gerry a bit of pain is cool with me!

So while Gerry’s getting his teeth and jaw checked, I’m waiting patiently (feels like forever – and now they’re playing, Please Release Me…) Dang.

Our hotel room is very nice – a good size, comfy bed, wireless internet, excellent cable channels and a quiet vista of a residential street. We had a celebratory dinner last night at Canadian Honkers – amazing veg
etable soup! – and spent the entire meal talking about how much we miss the kids.

I miss the kids.

When I got back from Detroit and saw how happy Hannah was – how confident and, I swear, taller – I knew that sending her to Girl Scout Camp this summer was the BEST thing we could have done. I feel like we’ve equipped her with extra abilities to deal with the time away from us, and to be a source of comfort and strength for Max. She makes an excellent – if bossy – older sister. Is there any other kind? I never had one, so I don’t know!

Talking to the kids last night, Max was almost crying. Hannah was bubbling and happy to be going to see her friends. I tried not to cry. I wanted to drive up this afternoon, but we realized that we’re exhausted, we have to catch the 6:30am shuttle tomorrow, and I think emotionally it would be too much for Gerry. Yeah, that’s right – too much for Gerry – not me. Naaaah.

‘Jersey, you’d better be good to my kids. I know where you live, and I know people.

As forecast, knitting is EXCELLENT here at the Mayo, and I spied 3 other knitters (as well as a woman at a desk) doing some interesting stuff with two needles and yarn.

Hmmm, makes me wonder if there’s any regular knitting group at the Mayo… I wonder if I should start one…

I got Gerry to make three stitches today – it’s progress – and maybe I can get him to finish a row tomorrow. I can hope.

Here’s a project I’m doing right now, a lace shawl that’s not specifically “lace” – it’s a twisted drop stitch, which works really well with a variegated yarn. If they like it, it’s for VK. If they don’t, I’ll post the pattern here!

A note to folks emailing for basic knit assistance: Usually I get about 10 – 30 emails per week asking basic knitting questions, and I try to answer each one as quickly and thoroughly as I can. Right now I’m not able to get to them as I’d like. I’ll try, but if you don’t hear from me, please understand!

Oh, yeah, and something else happened on 8/7 – the release of Romantic Hand Knits!! And briefly – perhaps not – it’s at #8 on the Amazon List for knitting books. Woo!

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