It is Saturday afternoon as I sit down to write. The day began with a trip to the Vet’s office with our two dogs, Mazel and Simin. They were due for their heartworm injections, in fact, they were it turns out, six months overdue. They should have been injected in June but that month was taken up with my knee replacement surgery. Who ever said that growing old was going to be easy? Now, with the relief of being declared cancer free, we can pay more attention to the mundane tasks of everyday living.
While at the vet’s office I watched these two dogs, sniffing and exploring, at least that is what I think they are doing. I thought about their actions, how they were absolutely engaged in this very moment, concerned about nothing but their well chosen activity. There I sat, thinking also that I was peeing into a diaper which made me a bit self-conscious, while the Vet was getting ready to inject them with the serum to keep the dogs safe from heartworms for the next six months.
In the car, on the way home, it hit me. What am I feeling sorry for myself for? Look, I still don’t know if the incontinence caused by the Radical Prostatectomy is permanent. In fact, there have been some signals that it may be only temporary. But so what, let’s take the worst case, that the condition is permanent and I will be wearing adult diapers for the remainder of my life. What if instead of diapers I would be tied to a colostomy bag? Would I be complaining loudly or accepting the condition as a fact of life that I would simply learn to live with. Things became quite calm at that very moment of decision. It is now unlikely that prostate cancer will be the cause of my demise. The latest mortality rates for disease specific mortality is a mere 10% (a survival rate of 90%) so it is clear that I am not facing death from this disease. If I have to face the consequences of incontinence so be it. At least I may actually, possibly, maybe see the Chicago Cubs win a World Series…I can always hope!
I am also getting ready for the holiday season. Chanukah begins at sundown and the first candle is to be lit tonight. We are planning to attend a Chanukah party at the Elgin-Hoffman Estates Chabad tomorrow afternoon and on the last full day of Chanukah we will drive to Madison to join our Grandson Eddie, his parents and a number of other families for a festive Chanukah party with potato latkes, lox and bagels and a whole lot more. While I don’t much care for religious celebrations, Chanukah is one of those times when kids have a whale of a good time, families get together to share and we can get ready to be rid of the cold weather and look forward to Spring. The fact that one must recite a few blessings interjects a pallor of myth that must somehow be deconstructed in order to make any sense at all of the underlying irrationality of the holiday itself makes the whole thing somehow tarnished.
The ubiquitous nature of the season is also a cause for stress. No matter where one turns there are reminders that simply won’t let go. I cannot drive down my street without being attacked by houses lit up with commercially available lights made in China (or some other third-world sweat shop) which seems to me to debase the message the house decorators are trying so desperately to send. Wouldn’t it be a better choice to sit this one out, to pledge to purchase only domestically manufactured goods as presents? Perhaps one should also look to the idea of gifting as something one does, not to impress, but to give unconditionally without expectations of a gift in return. The gift of love, of caring, of hope, of embracing the differences we share with our neighbors ought to be enough to capture the spirit without breaking the bank or supporting the practices of shipping jobs overseas to save a corporate dollar (which goes to feed the greed of the corporate executives at a rate of nearly 500 times the annual salary of their average company salary). Okay, then, I have ranted enough. Time to sit back and watch some sports on tv and get ready for dinner with friends tonight.