Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Muddling Through

Some of you may remember that back at the start of this year, I became a monthly columnist for The Myeloma Beacon, an online myeloma site. I love writing for the Beacon; I have found a community of friends and supporters there.

I am reprinting my December column, which just ran on Monday the 16th. I have another December blog post in the works on an entirely different topic, but after you read this, you will understand when I say I don't yet have the energy to finish it off.

I had to do a lot of driving earlier this month. I had four days of mediation training packaged in two-day blocks with a weekend in between. That took me up to northwest Ohio and back twice in a short period of time. To keep myself company, I turned on the car radio and let it serenade me down the road.
It’s the holiday season and the airwaves are saturated with Christmas music. The sacred songs, the secular songs, and the gimmicky songs play in an ever flowing, unstoppable stream.
One often played holiday song is rarely played in its original form. That’s too bad, because the original version is my Myeloma Holiday Song 2013.
In 1944, Judy Garland sang “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” to a distraught Margaret O’Brien in the movie “Meet Me in St. Louis.” One particularly poignant verse goes like this:
Someday soon we all will be together,
If the Fates allow;
Until then we’ll have to muddle through somehow.
So have yourself a merry little Christmas now.
If you haven’t seen the movie and don’t recognize those lyrics, there’s a reason for that. In 1957, Frank Sinatra asked lyricist Hugh Martin to “jolly up” the line about muddling through. Martin obliged and substituted “hang a shining star upon the highest bough.” Never mind that the line is a non sequitur to the preceding line. It stuck.
Almost every artist recording “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” since Sinatra sings the revised lyrics. A welcome exception is James Taylor, who resurrected the original lyrics in his version.
I’m glad James Taylor bucked the trend. When he came on the car radio, I turned it up extra loud. James recognizes that sometimes we get to this time of year and the best we can do is muddle through somehow.
I’m muddling through right now, with some extra help from my myeloma.
I saw my oncologist just before Thanksgiving. My lab numbers continue their slow, steady drift in the wrong directions. I’m tired all the time, way beyond “57+ years old tired” or “busy day tired.” And my wedding ring is now several sizes too big, causing my oncologist to speculate there is catabolic muscle loss going on.
What a muddle.
I have a lot of labs scheduled for late December, along with a skeletal survey. I meet my oncologist in mid-January, and we will map out where I go from here. According to my doctor, it is highly likely I will go back into treatment.
I’m definitely muddling right now. Even before my oncologist put his stamp on the situation, I knew my energy levels did not begin to meet my holiday plans. And as we draw deeper into December and I assess the upcoming holidays, I am acutely aware that my energy levels continue to drop like our current temperatures.
That’s a whole other muddle to deal with this month.
So back to my song. I love the original lyrics. I don’t find them bleak. They actually buoy me with the message that I can and will muddle through somehow. Despite the uncertainty of this disease, despite my children and grandchild being impossibly far away, despite my husband’s hectic December performance schedule, despite my huddling on the sofa every night reading because I have no energy to do anything else, I am muddling through.
I plan on having a merry little Christmas, myeloma and all.