Your Smiles Make Me Smile

If you really want to get the most out of my blog, it's best to start with the first post written in July to the present since some blogs refer back to earlier posts; but any order is just fine... Thanks for visiting! Now scroll on down to the good news! ~Renae~

Monday, February 13, 2012


"Reeennnnaaaeeee! Time for your Shot!"
That’s what my mother used to shout while I ran wildly disheveled through our dirt road neighborhood, in the days before screaming for your kid to come home out the front door became a semblance of uncivilized.  Most of the time while I was crawling through dirt tunnels in the side of the hill with mud the size of golf balls stuck in my full length hair, I would hear my mother’s voice “Time for your lunch!” and I would come running.  Only illness struck and I was shuffled off to the nuns at Providence Hospital and stuck in quarantine while I was poked, prodded, x-rayed, and had tubes put up my nose and down my throat so they could take samples of whatever it was they were looking for.  I had tuberculosis; an active case, which was rare, or unheard of in Anchorage in the 1960’s.  My parents fought tooth and nail to save my life, when they couldn’t be assured that I would live.  I wasn’t scared, but they were. 

Unlike most cases, mine uncharacteristically traveled from the lungs into my bloodstream and landed smack dab in my spine.   Of course, I’m sure that’s why every person I ever had contact with prior to that time was doing the River Dance when they learned that they too had to be tested for TB, from Alaska all the way to California.  That six year old version of me put everyone in a state of turmoil. And for the record, I did run wild through the streets of my neighborhood in the 1960’s, under the close supervision of my big brother, hence the dirt tunnels instead of Barbies.

There was no shock to me, except when I had to spend two weeks alone in a hospital room where only my parents could visit, fully clothed and masked, for one hour a day.  That’s when I learned to tell time.  I named the only doll I could have in the room “Alan,” after my brother, although I’m sure the doll was burned after my release.  I always wondered why I couldn’t take my Alan home.  Because the tuberculosis was not pulmonary (or contagious), I was sent home with my parents who received a crash course in administering what I later learned to be chemotherapy.  Little did I understand then, the immense pain a parent will take for the love of their children. 
After the doctors found a concoction of 16 pills a day to replace the shots, I was left black and blue from butt to thigh.  Honestly, I didn’t care, I just bit the pillow, counted to 25, and waited impatiently for my parents to finish the shot so I could go back out and play.  I was innocent to the fact that my parents were falling apart through the hardship and fear imposed on them by my illness. 

I can still see my mom, hands trembling, turning the bottle upside down while drawing the medication through the syringe; pushing out any air through the needle for fear of it getting into my veins, while one day under the pressure, she burst into tears and my dad had to take over.

Speaking of my dad, he was either a genius, or really, really dumb.  In the end, to my fortune, he was a genius.  The medical bills were far too outrageous for a couple, barely into their 30’s to handle, so they applied for assistance through the TB Association, who was recommended by my ever so handsome, Dr. Peterson. At six, I knew handsome when I saw handsome.  But back to the point.  The TB Association agreed to pay everything, with one stipulation; that my parents sign their rights away to my treatment.  My fearful and innocent parents sat in a conference room in front of a Board who held my life in their hands.  But my dad, being bad ass, not only said “No,” he said “HELL No” and my parents walked out.  I was not about to be anybody’s guinea pig or clinical trial girl without his consent.  At that, the TB Association came back and agreed to full payment, no stipulations. Let’s just say that from thereon out, my parents gave back generously over the years while singing the praises of the Tuberculosis Association to all who would listen.

On that note, we do what we do as crazy as it may seem, because we love our children, if for no other reason.  We don't need another reason.

Did I ever mention that I had the police break up a party of hundreds of pubescent teenagers who came running out of a house like cockroaches, while I ran into the crowd screaming my daughter’s name? No I probably didn’t, but that’s what love does.  It makes us run into the fire, not away from it. It makes us crazy. 

And so, against the odds of my cancer having made it through my bloodstream like the TB did years ago, in contrast to the absolute necessity of taking four cycles of poison that could have lasting effects on my quality of life, and regardless of my oncologist’s recommendations that it was only an option, I chose the chemo.  Before I changed from my little hospital gown that magically turns me into a submissive child (not that I ever was), I added one final statement before resting my case; “There is one aspect that science does not take into consideration, and that’s the psychological aspect of a patient’s decision. I never want to look into my daughters’ fearful eyes and have to say ‘I’m sorry, I should have tried the chemo.’.”  That’s how much I love them.

The good news is, I’ll be sitting in a comfy chair with my feet up, my own little flat screen t.v., a laptop, a good book, and my cell phone, instead of biting a pillow after my mother shouts to the neighborhood in a most uncivilized fashion, "Renae! Time for Your Shot!”  My how times have changed.

Sweet Dreams and Always GOOD Dreams,

No comments: