Sunday, October 28, 2012

Name That Disease

So last week I threw out a "Name that Disease" challenge (see below post). My blood disorder doesn't have a proper name and my complaint was that I'll never get that coveted Lifetime channel "movie disease of the week" without an attractive moniker. Making lemonade outta lemons is what I'm doing here.

But first, we need to name this rogue protein in my blood that is chomping away at my nerve sheaths and leaving damage in its wake. It's resulted in neuropathy in my feet and is slowly working its way up my legs.  Not much that can be done about it, other than try to slow its spread with chemo.  The "blood thingie" (my working title) is not curable and not terminal, but just, as my doctor shrugged, "A major bummer."

So I said what the heck...let's give this "major bummer" a name.

To date, I haven't seen any viable names for the condition itself, but did receive several attractive titles for my potential Lifetime movie.  You did well, Grasshoppers. Here are my favorites so far, categorized by genre.

Sweeping epic: "LORD OF THE VEINS" starring Cate Blanchett and Mark Ruffalo

Comedy: "NUMB & NUMBER" with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler

Romance:"BLOOD STORY" featuring Connie Britton and Hugh Grant 

Spy/Thriller:  "SYNDROME X" with Kate Winslett and Daniel Craig

Nice job, folks. Keep 'em coming. Because I figure, as long as I'm stuck with this "major bummer," I might as well have a little fun with it, right?

Beats the alternative.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Return of the Blood Thingie Part ll

On Friday, I met with my neurologist to discuss this blood thingie I've got, a condition so rare that it doesn't even have a proper name. Nothing interesting like Such-and-Such Syndrome or respectful like John Doe Disease. Instead, its name is an ambiguous string of letters that sound more like something pulled off the Periodic Table. 

Hence my working name of choice, the "Blood Thingie."  

Last year, I had chemo to try and halt the progression of the Blood Thingie, and in July test results indicated that the treatment had worked. The Blood Thingie may not be curable, but at least now it wasn't spreading. Cool.

Lately however, symptoms are returning. I've lost at least 75% of all feeling in my feet, and the "pins and needles" tingling (indicating nerve damage) has suddenly resumed, creeping up my legs to almost mid-thigh. Not good, my friends, not good.

That's why I met with Dr. Gibbs, to find out what the heck is going on.  I like this guy.  How can you not like someone who, upon hearing the familiar Words with Friends "ding" from the iPhone tucked in my purse, confesses that he's also addicted to the game, and then shares his frustration at constantly losing to a lawyer that he's playing. A lawyer, for Pete's sake! His response was the same I might have if I were being bested by Koko the gorilla.

Anyway, Dr. Gibbs ran the usual tests, which include poking my feet and legs with safety pins, zapping them with electrodes, and testing my balance by having me stand and then pushing me around. "And to think I get paid for this," he joked. 

Additional blood work will confirm if the Blood Thingie has resumed, but his medieval tests indicate that it has. If so, he said another round of chemo may be in order. Ugh.  At least it's not the losing-hair-throwing-up-kind of chemo, but still, this stuff is pretty toxic. During my last round I was told that following each infusion, I should flush my toilet three times after each use for three days because of what the chemo might do to the pipes. My response had been, "Pipes? Pipes? What about MY pipes!"

And so, while we await results, I'm welcoming suggestions for a name for this disease. Something that sounds mysterious, intelligent, and maybe even a tad sexy, because here's what I'm thinking: with the right sounding name, perhaps I can turn lemons into lemonade and get a Lifetime channel disease movie-of-the-week out of this whole ordeal. Can't you just picture someone like, oh say, Connie Britton or Laura Linney playing me in the title role? I like the idea.

But that's not going to happen, not with a name like the Blood Thingie. So bring it on, folks--share your ideas for a decent-sounding disease. Something I can wear with pride. My self-respect is at stake here.

Not to mention maybe an Emmy. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Kindness of People

I've had a lousy couple of weeks lately, stressing about this and that. Just life, you know. The usual.

But that's why two separate gestures from women I hardly know touched me so. They couldn't have guessed how I was feeling, or how such simple actions would help lift my spirits.

The first occured last Sunday at the Golden State Greyhound Adoption (GSGA) annual picnic. Earlier this year, when my sweet pup, Elvis lost his battle with cancer, I heard from hundreds of readers who follow this blog, as well as my Pet Tales column in the San Francisco Chronicle. I also heard from many greyhound guardians who belong to GSGA.

One such person was a woman named Catherine, who had emailed me, saying: "Providing updates on Elvis over the years has no doubt led to many Greyhound adoptions and presented a loving snapshot of what these wonderful animals contribute once they are released from race track slavery. Your grief is felt....."

At Sunday's picnic, I met Catherine who was as nice in person as her email implied. After talking a bit, she said she had a gift for me " celebrate Olivia's homecoming," she explained, handing me a stylishly simple ribbon bracelet with one single bead. "Think of your new dog every time you wear this bracelet."

Tongue-tied, I stammered an awkward "thank you," not really conveying how moved I was by the thoughtful gesture. But I wore the bracelet a couple times this week, and each time I glanced at it, I'd remember my goofy, loving, delirously joyful dog waiting for me at home and I'd smile. The bracelet, Olivia's token, achieved exactly what Catherine meant for it to do.

The second gesture came at Wednesday's book club meeting. There we were, sitting in a cozy circle in Anne's living room, chatting about movies, men, work, and, oh yes, the occasional book, when Susan said she had something for me. Now bear in mind, I've only socialized with Susan in our book club. She's always been warm and friendly, but I've never had the opportunity to get to know her better. 

Anyway, she reached into her purse and pulled out a small ceramic Greyhound statue. It had belonged to her daughter, she explained, who has always wanted a Greyhound. She left the statue behind when she moved out and Susan knew if there was anyone who would appreciate this item, it would be me.

The statue looks just like my sweet Elvis.

And so, now gracing my fireplace mantle is the Elvis statue circled with the Olivia token. Every time the two catch my eye, my heart is warmed: with love for my dogs past and present, as well as gratitude for the kindness of people who understand that love.
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