On Thanksgiving weekend I thought of so much I am thankful for – the support of my family, my community, and all those dedicated health care workers who cared for me and continue to keep me healthy. We were able to celebrate at Rhonda’s cousin’s home, just as we have since we moved to Fair Lawn, with the exception of last year. It was one more sign of my return to normal life.
There is little to report on the health care side. I had my monthly visit with Dr. Keyzner this week. My platelet and hemoglobin numbers are below the normal range, but not so low that I need any medication or transfusions. It is the “new normal” and I can live very well if those numbers remain steady. I was supposed to continue my vaccinations this week. I lost all of my immunities during the transplant process and a few months ago I began receiving new vaccines. However, I came down with a cold so the five injections will be postponed until next month. Then Dr. Keyzner announced that I am now ready to go on a new schedule – seeing her once every two months. It is both a relief to hear that but also a bit worrying. She reassured us that we can call at any time if there is a need. It is almost hard to believe that just a year ago we were at the clinic three times a week.
Before 1990 when I was diagnosed with essential thrombocythemia, an abnormally high platelet count and the precursor to myleofibrosis, I was a regular blood donor. I would always look to the side and close one eye when they would place the needle in my arm, I continued to do the same innumerable times when my blood was taken over the past few years. I can’t wait for the reassuring “click” that signals the removal of the needle from my arm. I don’t like to see anything bloody on television, or in the movies. I close my eyes even when someone is shown getting an injection. No, I have not gotten over that despite the number of times, around 200, I have had my blood taken, and through all the transfusions. That is just one of the many reasons I did not consider medicine as a career.
Rhonda celebrated a special birthday recently and Gabe came up with a plan to fly Deena in for the event. When Rhonda saw Deena at our door, she was literally speechless. Later that Sunday we had a surprise party for Rhonda with her oldest friends, the most recent one she met over forty years ago. It was a wonderful event.
Several members of my congregation have joined the increasing number of those who take a vacation to Nashville. I have been asked for advice and was happy to give my take on the sights to see, although that the city has gone through some significant changes since we left in 2007. I also have shared my special “Nashville Jewish Trivia” with those who were interested. After all, who knows the name of the most famous Jewish Nashvillian? Dinah Shore, of course. If you want more of such trivia, such as finding out why the most commonly owned Jewish book in America is named after a Nashville landmark, send me an email, at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you the rest of the questions and answers.
I am now starting to think more about my retirement. About five years ago I attended a two day conference organized by the Rabbinical Assembly for Rabbis approaching retirement. We heard from financial advisers, someone who works for Social Security, and several Rabbis to engage us to think about what it means to retire. Of course, the day after the seminar I ordered all three books that were recommended at the seminar. I read them at that time, but as I approached the transplant I put that out of my mind. I was not sure I would have a retirement. Now I am starting to consider what I want to do. I recall several of my friends saying to me, “You have interests so you will keep yourself busy.” I am working on it. I am looking at the photos on my computer and will put together a new book of family photos. When the weather is warm I can start going on the walking tours of New York in a book I recently purchased that focuses on the new buildings in the city.
I attended a support group at Mt. Sinai for patients who have had a bone marrow transplant. I felt very lucky and thankful not to have had the serious side effects that I heard about at the meeting. When Rhonda hears me say that she usually responds with, “Lucky is not having been diagnosed with blood cancer.” As usual, I agree with her wisdom.