Wishing – The Long and Short of It
A dear friend recently made a wish for me that may have sounded like an insult to anyone else. “I wish for you to be old and fat with lots of gray hair,” my friend texted me.
Far from being insulted, I had to laugh.
Webster says a wish can be an expression of a desire for something like a person's good health and that's what my friend, with a typical dose of wry humor, was wishing for me.
This friend has been in remission from myeloma cancer for an inspiring 16 years following a stem cell transplant in another state similar to one I had in April at UAMS in Little Rock.
So, who better to know what to wish for me, after my surprise diagnosis and battle with multiple myeloma nearly cost me my life and left me weak, bald and barely weighing 103 pounds.
Now, I'm thankful to say all three of my friend’s wishes for me seem to be coming true.
Although my initial diagnosis last year identified multiple myeloma in 97 percent of my body, that count is now down to less than 5 percent and holding. That improvement plus ongoing treatment have greatly increased my prospects for a longer, active and productive life. So the first part of my friend's wish for me – that I grow old – seems to be activated.
Secondly, although I greatly appreciated all the "fat transplant" offers I received from many friends and family members who learned how hard it can be sometimes to put back pounds lost during treatment, I'm now happily gaining, and retaining, those much- needed pounds on my own, thank you very much!
As for that third part of the wish – lots of gray hair – for the third time since my treatments began, my hair is finally growing back with vigor. I still can't tell yet if it's going to be black or dark brown mixed
with silver, or gray or some other color, or a mixture of all the above. Meanwhile, I often wear a wig similar to the color of my pre-cancer treatment hair, which was a medium brown short cut with blondish highlights. My husband's still urging me to buy a short, pixie-cut, black wig, too. So there's no telling if the gray hair part of the wish for me will come true exactly as intended. But the part about having lots of hair seems to be off to a good start.
While there are many more serious aspects of my cancer treatment and ongoing recovery than weight and hair loss issues, there has been another surprising peripheral effect I'm having to deal with. I'm nearly 4 inches shorter now than I was before I was admitted for treatment at UAMS in November. That's when nine spinal compression fractures caused by multiple myeloma were discovered and treated with kyphoplasty. Before the cancer caused my bone loss, I had been 5 feet 7 inches tall since about my junior year of high school.
Now, in addition to all my jeans and slacks being too big, they're also nearly 4 inches too long. I have cabinets and closet shelves I can no longer reach without the aid of a foot stool or grabber tool. I need a cushion to sit comfortably at our dining table, and have to stand on my tip toes to hug my over-6-foot-tall husband and some of our children and grandchildren.
Nearly every time I'm surprised anew by my now-diminished height, I think of a brief video clip we have of our nephew Josh when he was about 8 years old. My husband was filming random scenes and comments of family and friends at a family wedding when he asked Josh if he had any thoughts about the event that he wanted to share.
Josh paused briefly before looking solemnly and directly into the camera lens and slowly, distinctly answering Frank's question with an earnest, unexpected query of his own – “Why am I so short?”
I'm not sure just how tall Josh wanted to be then, or even how tall he is now. But he certainly did get taller as he grew up and became a handsome, outstanding high school and college baseball player and is now a successful chiropractor.
I sometimes think of Josh's young yearning to be taller as I'm still being surprised or inconvenienced by my new, lower stature. But instead of wishing myself to be taller again, I try to remember to give thanks for how blessed I am to still be here – even if I am a lot shorter.