Earlier this week, Jimmie and I attended Spamilton at the Kirk Douglas Theatre. It’s the first time we’ve been to the theatre together since we went to see Punk Rock at SDA almost a month ago. In all truth, we hadn’t been planning on attending the theatre again together not because we loathe the theatre or spending time together, but because the Circumstantial ROI of our theatre outings has become negligible for Jimmie. You can read here about our last Broadway Adventure.
The schlepp to the theatre is fine. We enjoy each other’s company and it’s nice to get out and see our adopted city’s
sights traffic periodically. Assembling and disassembling Jimmie’s magical scooter is fairly automatic – no waving of the wand (that would be welcome technology, please), but it’s manageable. The logistics are surmountable. But when you can’t hear the play, what’s the point of surmounting the logistics?
Once we get to the theatre, sure, I have a moment of terror when Jimmie heads into the men’s room and I lurk by the door, craning to hear a thump and to ensure that no one takes his scooter for a joy ride. Other onlookers frequently are kind and offer an arm to walk him in and out of the men’s room. But I still look like some kind of perv, which is awkward.
Last night as I lurked before heading into see the show, I got a text from one of my friends from the spin gym where I have been a member for about four years. I had missed the email from the founder of the gym, which was entitled “Heartbreaking News…” In the brief email, she spelled out her reasons for the upcoming abrupt closure of the gym – on November 22nd. My phone lit up with other messages from friends I’ve met and gotten to know at the gym. I was completely distracted throughout the time leading up to the show, and immediately afterwards, restored my phone to see more communal wailing about the closure.
The power of words.
Since I wrote the last two posts, I’ve discovered people’s hunger to discuss and share the issue of giving care to our loved ones. A half dozen people have approached me to share their own stories, proving that we humans have a lot going on in our lives that isn’t necessarily visible in our daily comings and goings. Many people are shouldering their responsibilities at work while also carrying untold pounds of personal grief or struggle at home. And we don’t talk about it in any kind of direct way. We hide it as though it’s something to be ashamed of when it’s not. It’s just completely a part of our lives. We carry it because we want to, or in some cases, we need to or have to.
Tuesday, Jimmie and I visited the doctor after he experienced drainage difficulties in the morning, which I was able to help him solve with some of the medical equipment I had left over from over a year before. Note to self. However much you relish the idea of a personal bonfire to eliminate the traces of your medical mishigas, you should resist. By saving two boxes of single use catheters, I saved us a trip to the ER and missing a lecture. And yes, I know you were all asking yourselves,
What was she a girl scout or something?
Just as you shouldn’t get ahead of yourself in medical equipment armament, don’t Konmari yourselves into an ER visit as your situation changes.
Our visit to the doctor was late in the day. When we came in, he was in a hurry, and unfortunately hurry isn’t in our repertoire anymore. Jimmie inadvertently scooted into the wrong room requiring me to use my air traffic controller batons to steer him into the correct one, where the doctor did a quick ultrasound. As Jimmie stood to get dressed again, his back was facing the doctor when I asked him about the biopsy results.
The doctor, lowering his voice, quietly said,
Oh, They didn’t tell you? There’s aggressive cancer in the prostate.
I looked at him, incredulous. Did who tell us? This was his surgeon speaking. Also, I couldn’t believe that he was trying to tell me this without including Jimmie, who is extremely hard of hearing and facing the window while he pulled up his pants. My bossy sister emerged.
Oh, no. You need to tell him this directly.
And in my loud, most comely voice, said to Jimmie.
Jimmie, you need to turn around. The doctor has something important to tell you.
Jimmie turned and the doctor delivered the news. Again, he was still in a hurry, not that he was being unkind or elusive, but this was his last appointment before heading over to the adjacent hospital, and the details were brief.
Aggressive prostate cancer. Hormone therapy.
The power of words. When Jimmie stood up from the table, he caught his leg on something sharp, and as I hurried to help him with his pants, the doctor and I both watched as two small blooms of blood developed on the back of his khakis. He quickly applied gauze and tape, and then Jimmie and I executed the extraction of the scooter from the office. Everything else about the exit from the office is fuzzy. I can’t speak for Jimmie, but I was in an emotional blackout.
The next twenty-four hours moved in a blur. We decided to go to Spamilton to take our minds off the unknown.
The follow up appointment with his GP two days later calmed us down. He confirmed that the entire tumor board of the hospital had reviewed Jimmie’s case and were unanimous in the treatment plan. Somehow hearing that was a comfort. Prostate cancer is slow moving.
Heartbreaking news…Aggressive Prostate Cancer. These word combinations are tough to read but it is our reactions that are our own to manage.
In the case of the closure of my gym, the truly heartbreaking news was that I had already paid for my 2018 membership and have yet to hear back from the management about a refund. If I am honest with myself, I had been thinking that I needed to change up my workout plan. Spinning, as good as it is for cardio, is boring. I’d been thinking I’d like to try pilates, or something else. So barring legal issues getting my membership fee back, while the news is heartbreaking for all the spin instructors at the gym and for the convenience of having my gym within 400 paces of my front door, these words can be managed.
In the case of Jimmie’s cancer, we will move forward with treatment, and take it a day at a time. Lord knows we are practiced in that. And we even have more theatre outings in our future. Last night we attended, heard and enjoyed Circle Mirror Transformation to see the MFA Y2 Actors in the Scene Dock Theatre. Tonight Eurydice is on the ticket.
This morning I got a text with some photos from Chris.
A bear broke into my truck last night
Now that’s heartbreaking. Especially given how much the truck has meant to Chris. But that’s why we have insurance.
I’m grateful to be blessed with all the things we have. Good enough health to be able to attend a gym on a regular basis. Good enough medical care to help us through this crisis that Jimmie is experiencing. Lots of loving support from family and friends as we go through this ordeal. Good enough auto insurance to repair Chris’ truck. All of it is surmountable. As Chris texted me this morning, “This too shall pass.”
Heartbreaking News…Aggressive Prostate Cancer…Bear in the Truck. The power of words do not render us powerless.
And in the meantime, it seems fitting that Thanksgiving is right around the corner.
Dear E LS and Jimmie, Seems strange the surgeon didn’t mention the cancer part of the evaluation first off…incredible to me!But!!! You both live in real time and theatre time and are blessed with adaptations to both!!!I am sure we will encounter challenges in the not too didtant future…and hopefully will will deal with them as you both are!!!Your sense of humor and resoluteness are key!!! Tell Chris it is a blessing it was only 1 bear!! 🙄And to you all a Happy Thanksgiving!!!Love, Paul and r enie xoxo
Sent via the Samsung Galaxy S® 6, an AT&T 4G LTE smartphone
Live in Real Time. There should be a T-shirt. Happy Thanksgiving to you, too! May the bears stay away from our lives in future….Or may we continue to bear them. (oofa. The Collins Pun problem)
Els, this is a wonderful post filled with truth and compassion and vulnerability. As you said, so many of us are dealing with the challenge of caring for and supporting loved ones during various stages of emotional troubles, health troubles or the overall process of aging. It always helps to know we’re not alone. Blessings.
We are not alone, indeed. Hope you are well! So nice to hear from you. xoxoxo
Dear Els: Please don’t start your columns off with ‘heartbreaking news’ ever again. I was afraid to open it. My stomach dropped and I started crying. I’ve never been so happy to be wrong and it reminds me to work on my reactions. Much love to you both.
Sorry to shock you, Susan. That’s kind of the point, right? But didn’t mean to make you process more than you could handle. You’ve been through your share. Love you so much. Sending all our love.
Dearest Els and Jimmie, So sad to hear this new news about Jimmie’s health. We do indeed struggle as we continue to try and find joy in our lives. Jimmie – Phil is so taken with your book that he will stop and read passages to me. We are enjoying your stories immensely. Love to you both.
Dear Mary (and Phil),
Thanks so much for your support and for the feedback on Jimmie’s book! So lovely. I’ll be happy to pass that along to him.
I miss you both so much and I am honored to read these posts and have a glimpse into your wonderful and adventurous life together. My heart is with you, please give Jimmie a big hug from me. I’d love to come visit when I return to LA in December. Big hugs to you both ❤️❤️
Thank you for your beautiful comments. I shared them with Jimmie and we’d love to see you when you get back to LA. Happy Thanksgiving!
Relatively slow prostate cancer and not being IN the car when the bear came — could indeed be worse. I heartily recommend pilates — give it a try. And I found this, although you’ve probably already found it and six similar sites and bookmarked them: https://www.cancer.gov/types/prostate/prostate-hormone-therapy-fact-sheet My thoughts are with you both, of course!
Thanks, so much, James. Agreed that things could have been worse. Thanks for the links!
Els – you are so wonderful. Sending so much love to you and Jimmy. You are both in my heart every day. And, yeah, bears are just like bad children. Glad the insurance will pay for it; don’t leave food in the car. They can smell it every time, and they have no scruples!
Saw James and Marilyn at the theatre the other night and they told me they’d stayed with you on their cross country venture. Said you looked well and we talked about you! sending love