Friday, March 4, 2016

Inch One Hundred Seven: A Shining Light in the Long, Slow Slog

Frances, from Bread and Jam For Frances by Russell Hoban 

What I am 
Is tired of jam.

That lonely little plaint was sung by Frances, the badger created by Russell Hoban (edited by the amazing Ursula Nordstrom) when she got her wish to have bread and jam every single meal every day.

I am not tired of jam, but I am tired. Tired to the bone. Tired to the bone marrow.

It is truancy season and my hours at work are taxing. I spend much of my week in different schools throughout the county, mediating attendance issues with families and schools. When I am in my office at the courthouse, I am working doggedly to keep up with the flood of paperwork related to truancy season. Winter is when I pile up more comp time than I care to think of and winter is when I say to friends and colleagues asking me to join them for coffee or something similar, "I'll try but I don't know if I can make it work." While I type this, I think of the friend who I promised I would try to send her some open dates for this week (the one just ending) when we could meet for a quick cup of coffee. It didn't happen. It is hard to lift my eyes and thoughts to tomorrow, let alone another week.

I saw Tim, my oncologist, briefly on Wednesday. There has been a lot of emotional and medical ripples from Mayo, from Tim, and from other events in Cancerland. The short version is that, for now, we are staying the course on the treatment regimen I have been on since last August. (I'm being deliberately vague about this because my monthly column in The Myeloma Beacon will not run for another 10 or 11 days, and it delves into greater detail.) But when I saw Tim, I said as we were finishing the appointment, "you know, this is just a long, slow slog." Tim thought a moment, then nodded in agreement.

"Yes, it is."

Having a slow moving, incurable, terminal cancer is a long, slow slog. I am still working. I am still volunteering. I am still doing some of my regular activities. But the myeloma and the treatment are wearing me down. It is like being nibbled on constantly.

Hence my thoughts of Frances and her being tired of jam.  I am just tired, period.

The great thing about Frances is that there is always a happy (or at least satisfactory) ending. And the great thing about my weeks is that there is usually a bright and shining moment, or several of them, in the midst of all the weary moments, the ordinary moments, and even the plain old good moments.

One of the brightest moments this week was the Treatment Court graduation at our Juvenile Court. Treatment Court is actually two courts: one for juveniles who have committed offenses due to alcohol or substance abuse, and one for adults who have lost custody of their children because of the parent's substance abuse. A Treatment Court participant must go through a series of phases along with intensive supervision and support. It can take a year or longer.

At Wednesday's graduation, seven individuals graduated.

The graduations are wonderful because of the palpable air of accomplishment in the courtroom. The graduates are proud that they have made it this far. They know there are others who have washed out. The staff is also proud. Each graduate represents a large investment in time and direction and commitment by participant and court and providers. Graduation is a big deal and I never grow tired of attending the event.

This one was extra special because of the presiding magistrate, Lynne Schoenling. Lynne made an opening statement about how proud she was to see everyone graduate. It is one of those moments where a person's passion comes to the surface and radiates throughout the room. As I commented to Warren later, the only thing missing was her enthusiasm shooting out from her fingertips as she talked, because it certainly was clear in her voice, her body language, her words, and her brilliant smile.

It was a shining moment indeed. And it buoyed me.

I am exhausted and worn more days than not. I am sick more days that I am well, sickness now being an almost daily feature. It is a long, slow slog across a long plain.

But, oh, the wonders along the way! And this week the wonder was Lynne.


Laurie said...

I"m glad you're able to find bright and shining moments in the midst of this. That sometimes makes all the difference.

Darla said...

It sounds like you are involved in some amazing work with some amazing friends. Wonderful that you found that uplifting moment at the graduation.

Linda P. said...

I'm glad to have discovered your blog. I hope your journey with myeloma is indeed a long and extremely slow slog.

Sharon said...

I am so sorry for your pain. It's inspiring to see that you can find something good out of the days, weeks and months, even with the diagnosis and pain. I pray that the tables turn and you have more good days than bad, and that maybe Cancerland can wait a long time. {{hugs to you my friend!}}

Lynne Schoenling said...

April -

Admittedly, I have read this post before, and ALWAYS with a humble and grateful heart. But I felt compelled to let you know that it is you're positive attitude that fuels myself and others. Thank you for your ever-present encouragement and support. The lessons that you have taught me are numerous: genuine kindness, determination, consideration, genuine joy, the meaning of friendship name a few.