Hold the Mayo

At the Mayo there are signs all over the place that if you’re sneezing or coughing, STAY AWAY.

I appreciate these signs – it will be only a short time until Gerry’s undergoing his high-dose chemo, and will be susceptible to all kinds of viruses.

But I woke up with a pretty strong sneezing, coughing, headachy cold this morning – I had a headache as I went to bed, I though it was the thunderstorms – but it’s turned into a full flown chest cold. Lots of coughing.

Maybe I picked something up, or maybe it’s the stress & smokey room (which is much better now!) but I’m going to take it easy for a day or so. Luckily, there’s a 5 day break while we wait for final approval from Gerry’s insurance company, so during this time I’ll be entirely away from Mayo until Thursday, when Gerry begins getting his growth hormone to create more stem cells.

Gerry’s taking advantage of this by driving over to a grocery store – I think he’s relishing just being out alone, something he’s not done in weeks, and something everyone needs.

He’s feeling better than he has in months, so if he wants to get out and enjoy himself on his own for a bit – all the better!

He walked in while I was writing this – yay – why I should be worried when he’s out I don’t know. I guess it’s a learned behavior that I’ll have to break myself of when we’re back home and he’s getting better and better.

Last night on one of the MM sites he visits a fellow announced that his wife just lost her MM battle after 3 years. It was a somber moment when Gerry told me – and, of course, we asked each other, “Was she taking the drugs I am?”, “Did she have a BMT?” But this is, after all is said and done, a very individualistic disease.

So if he wants to run around buying staplers, laundry soap and small tripods (he’s creating a video diary of his experience) then bless him. Any small autonomy is good.

We drove over to Otawanna yesterday to do some shopping, we needed to pick up some hardware stuff, look at ceiling fans (we still hadn’t found the right one for our kitchen) and – let’s face it – we were going a little stir crazy. We just needed to get out.

On the drive the weather was very odd – dark clouds in front of us with lightning flashing – but sunny where we were. The sun seemed to follow us – even when we headed into a brief shower, we were in the sun.

We drove past a wind farm – Gerry’d never seen one before, I’d seen the small one in Pennsylvania last year. When we were in Duluth we saw the huge fan blades and other parts for these – they’re absolutely huge. To see so many at a time is a little breathtaking.

In Owatanna we also visited the outlet malls – why not? – and I found some linen pants and tops which I’d been looking for on super-duper no-one-wants-us reduction of $12.25 each.

Now I have a pair of linen pants and a top to wear to appointments so I don’t look like a tourist at a theme park in shorts & a t shirt.

If Mayo’s trying so hard to look nice for us, we should return the favor, n’est ce pas?

I haven’t bought summer clothes in a long time. With my teaching curtailed this summer there was no need. But I want to look good for Gerry, and I need to get some halfway decent looking stuff for France.

Until Gerry gets his central line put in for the chemo (a direct line into his chest so he won’t need repeated needle sticks in his arm), he’ll be able to get into the pool and I think it would be VERY good for to build some strength in his bones. Moving around in a more weightless environment. So we picked up a bathing suit that will actually FIT him at Cabela’s ($8!) and explored the magic that is a venison cafeteria.

I have always been a ‘door holder’ – we know who we are. We rush to open a door for someone who needs it, and end up holding it for many, many folks. I don’t mind – it gives me something to do and, as I tell the folks who walk by thanking me, now I have a second career. Doormen (people?) can earn good money if they’re in a good union.

Very rarely someone neglects to thank me – it’s so unusual that it’s notable. As we were leaving one shop at the outlet mall yesterday and I held the door open for Gerry, another guy walked through, then another guy, then a third youngish, physically healthy specimen strolled by.

The odd thing was that this guy had two daughters, around 5 or 6, and they followed him out. Perhaps I just seemed like part of the landscape at that point, but not only did he not nod, thank or even acknowledge me, he just assumed I’d hold the door open for his daughters (which, of course, I did!)

Such a small thing, but it made me wonder; what kind of dad just walks out of a building assuming that his kids will be okay? I usually position myself BEHIND Hannah and Max when we leave a building (something I never thought of until now, I guess to make sure we
all get out okay.
) Mom brings up the rear.

But even if I walked out first I’d turn to make sure non one got caught in a door, got interested in something else and wandered away, or worse.

Gerry noticed it and chalked it up to the “getting ahead” mentality you see around us on TV and in our culture. Be first, get out ahead, we are number one, he who dies with the most toys wins. A sad type of thinking.

We noticed this guy strolling into another store – once again, not even noticing if his daughters had a hard time with the door

Seriously, what kind of person doesn’t turn around as they walk through a door to see if someone else is coming or to make sure it doesn’t catch someone else?

The store was called Big Dog and Gerry and I couldn’t believe the phrases plastered all over their Tshirts. Here are two shirts that were in the window – two of the least insulting that we saw.

What’s the point of being so unnecessarily nasty? I just stay away from writing on T shirts unless it’s a school I’ve attended or knitting related.

Gerry commented that it probably wasn’t by accident that this guy went into this store. I wonder if his daughters will be door holders?

I felt it might be good to mention again where we are, why we’re here, what we’re doing, etc. As I said, Gerry’s working on a video diary of this whole thing, I’m curious to see how it comes out. There may be a Gerry blog soon – or not. If there is I want it to be a release, not a chore.

When we knew we’d be coming to the Mayo, we drove down to Rochester and looked at several extended stay hotels and other options. Out of everything we saw, Staybridge Suites was by far the best value for the money. If we’re here for 30 days it should run roughly $65/day, which is more than a place like Hope Lodge or Transplant House (free or $25/day.)

Folks have asked – in the nicest way – why we’re not at the Hope Lodge. We’re here at Staybridge Suites mostly for the pet policy – we can have Gigi and eventually Atticus here with us. Also, when the kids are back from NJ we’d like to have them down on weekends to see Dad as much as possible. Those are two things we can’t do at Hope Lodge (no pets, no kids!)

On a side note, it was so nice – and a little surreal – to read about a Max sighting in Maplewood NJ!

Our current hotel also has a pool, an exercise room, free laundry and each room has a small kitchenette. We’re about 3/4 of a mile from Mayo and twice now we’ve walked home instead of taking the shuttle. Walking is good – and as Gerry recovers from the transplant – when walking is encouraged – it will be even better to have that as an option.

It was a rough choice, but really – seeing Gerry petting Gigi, seeing Gigi loving Gerry, that’s worth so much to both of us. Oh yeah, and the kids.

We’re in the cheapest room right now, when Gerry’s mom comes we’ll move into a 1 BR so she can have her own space.

I mention this because so many folks have been so kind, purchasing the Red Carpet Convertible pattern and helping us out. I was chatting with another person in a similar situation to ours – someone with decent health insurance (for the US) but who needs help with the extra bits (airfare, etc.)

She’d mentioned that although she appreciates help from folks, sometimes it almost feels as though by helping someone becomes a stockholder, and has a say in the financial decisions they make during their family health crisis.

I don’t feel this way – well, not entirely – but I do feel a certain accountability to folks who have been so good to us. Thank you!

I feel it’s necessary for us to live as well and as frugally as we can, for Gerry to work hard to recover, and for us to do as much as we can to assist his recovery. Gigi is instrumental in that.

Gerry’s definitely happier with a cat around.

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