Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Tim is a German, raised in a way that honored work and G0d and not much else. He was self supporting at 16, and his first car was the hottest car in town. This is the way of the H------- men. They have all grown up to be hard workers. His other brothers have their own businesses. Tim has been rather a failure in that part, and his father has made no secret of that, but we do pretty well, and one of his father's biggest goals is to find out where we get our money from, asking all sorts of nosy questions. The others boys - it's fairly obvious. 40 hour weeks are unheard of and their businesses are tied into the booming oil drilling that is going on here. Tim, on the other hand, works as a precision machinist at a failing company, but right now, anyway, he cannot afford to jump ship. Not because we don't need the money, but because a new insurance company would refuse to pay for my cancer treatments, citing it as a 'pre-existing condition'. Tim does his 40 weeks there, but he also cheerfully works on cars, houses, and fields requests from little old ladies who watch him working on our stuff, and need work done on their stuff. He probably winds up working 60 or 70 hours a week himself, around here, around other people's houses. And then he comes home and he gets on the computer and reads up on how to fix things, or where to get the stuff to fix things. That is his nature. That is not to say that Tims do not understand when their wives say, turning their heads on the pillow to stare at them in the dark, "Ok, Bubba, I'm not laying here naked because I want to talk about furnaces." He laughs at himself as hard as I do. He often says that God put him into my life to show him how a life should be led. He believes that I have made him a better man, and a better father. For my part, I believe that God has put him into my life at a time when all of us needed grounding, and we have all benefited as Tim as the head of the household. You can always tell when God's at work. His plan works for everybody.
One thing about Tim is that Tim cannot sit still. We were at the emergency room for 7 hours last week. I was so noise and light sensitive that he could do nothing but sit in the dark and wait. The dilaudid would start to wear off, and I'd fret about him, sitting there in the dark, and I'd urge him to go out and get a sandwich, or something. I knew that sitting there, doing nothing, must be agony for him. And then the headache would creep back, and there'd be another shot, and I'd become comfortably numb, as Pink Floyd phrased it. But once, as I was drifting off, I said to Tim, 'gees, this cancer has changed everything, hasn't it?' and his quiet answer was, 'Yes, it has. But it will be okay.' As I dosed off I heard him say, 'But cancer is a pain in the butt.' (Did I mention that Tim doesn't much swear.)
Anyways, Tim took me down to the cancer center for chemo yesterday. We're having some pretty bad lake effect snows and it turned out that Mary had to cancel at the last minute. I told her it was okay, I'd have my other best friend with me. (He does not play scrabble, but we always have something to talk about.) As always, the cancer center was a busy place. Lots of sick people there. The staff is great. Always something to laugh about. The oncologist spoke with us about her plan to take a skip on the headache. It will involve driving in every day, including Saturday and Sunday, but we all quickly agree that we're willing, if only we can avoid the headache. She's done a lot of consulting with my own family doctor to come up with her plan, and I am touched by that. She also set up a protocol at the Emergency Room. Just in case. I'm starting to feel pretty hopeful again.
Let me explain that the cancer center has a bookshelf full of books, and you can borrow them, and return them. There is lots of waiting at the cancer center. And Tim was looking. He found one. Tim reads, mind you. But where I read for pleasure, and for thinking, Tim reads for learning. He doesn't understand reading novels, because novels are 'lies'. Trying to explain that the best novels incorporate human nature, and life in a very real way, well. Tim doesn't get it. He does not understand reading for pleasure. But he selected a book. I figured that he'd found a book on machining, or cars, or hunting, or home repair. And Tim began to read. We sat quietly immersed in our own books. I'm reading Stevyn Colgan's book, 'Joined-Up Thinking', which is actually quite entertaining, filled with all sorts of facts that I never had an inkling of before, and one fact leads to another. It's a pleasant read, and the nicest thing about it is that the rounds are broken down into a chapter, so that you can read it, set it down, and pick it up again, with no fumbling around trying to remember what's going on...the new chapter begins a new round. It's perfect for people with 'chemo head'. So I'm chuckling over my book, and thinking, "I never knew that," reading aloud little factoids to Tim from time to time. Suddenly, I hear Tim chuckle. I look over. He's immersed in his book. "What's so funny?" and he reads to me from his book. He is reading a story about a soldier in Iraq who rescues a puppy and brings him home. I'm a little astounded. Although I am fully aware that Tim can read, and he can read well, I've never known him to read for pleasure. He brought the book home with him, and he read beside me on the couch, chuckling as he turned the pages. Tim is reading for pleasure, and it tickles me to see it.
I've noticed in my own life that one of the biggest blessings of this time is that, suddenly, I am slowed down, whether I was ready to be or not. Suddenly I have time to visit, really talk. I've got time to putz around my house and get the little things done. I cook meals with a mind as to what can be frozen away for a second meal on the bad days. I'm wondering if this enforced slow down is not about to bring Tim to the same point. I've said it before. When this is over, none of us will be the same. Even Tim.


BB said...

Hello Chemo Head... this was a lovely post. You have such an easy way with words Deb. I can picture the two of you sitting there in the cancer centre, reading quietly and sharing your snippets with the snow outside. I feel your headaches and Tim's slow down as if I was almost part of it.

Thanks for sharing. And sorry you weren't up to nailing the comp at my place... it's open til Friday and it wouldn't be a real contest without a pithy entry from you! We'll wait.


PS Sleep, woman!!

Hal Johnson said...

Great post, Debby. Yep, great post.

jeanie said...

Oh Deb, what a beautiful story - and truly, it is fantastic when two fairly good people not only meet and plump each other out to be better than good people but also continue the journey and are able to give that example and story to others...

My brother has never read a book for pleasure. Once he asked me "what are you reading?" When I told him it was a mystery, I suddenly had a lightbulb moment that he had never had that specific personal thrill of reading a mystery.

Anonymous said...

My mom gives me your articles from the WTO. She thinks you're great and it only took one of your articles for me to agree with her. Your Tim sounds alot like my hubby (33 years for us, last week). This last winter I broke my arm and it slowed me way down for a time, and though it's no comparison to cancer, I can agree that God brings blessings during "down times." Just want to let you know I keep one of your articles in my Bible where it reminds me to pray for you.

Redlefty said...

I'm still gonna ask the Big Guy why cancer for slowing you down. Couldn't He have tried something else first, like a hernia or appendicitis or something? ;)

MuseSwings said...

I'm with redlefty - maybe a hangnail, or a stye - but it is what it is and you've got what you've got and you write with such grace and whit and honesty that I - and others, I am sure, are amazed by your words!

The Mister never read at all until about 10 years ago when I handed him a John Clancy novel. I created a monster - he read for 9 years straight. He takes a breather now and again these days, but he has found the magic of books.

MuseSwings said...

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Bob said...

This one put tears in my eyes. In the short time I have been reading your artful prose, it has never been so beautiful. Thanks.