Friday, November 26, 2010

A Likely Story

Last night at my Grandparents’ Thanksgiving dinner, I was hidden in the side room as the guests arrived. The friends of my Grandparents - we’ll call them Bobby and Barbie and Sam and Sammy (who contribute to my theory that when people are older, they names will magically match in some manner) - had come over and were fretting over the 7th spot set at the table, asking my Grandmom who else was coming. And she smiled and opened the door, revealing me.

They were very surprised - and to my relief no one fainted or went into shock - and they took me in their arms in a tight hug. I realized as I hugged them back that they too had been a part of my journey this summer and the past seven years. Bobby and Barbie’s son has had an ostomy for 50 years, and Sam and Sammy’s daughter-in-law has one too. Everyone was ‘bag-literate’.

50 years ago when Bobby and Barbie’s son was first sick, he met Dr. Crohn in New York. His parents were told to brace for his death by their doctors, and Bobby even recalled his then 6 year old son telling him that he knew he was dying. He soon had his surgery and did his best to move on.

So there we were, 50 years later, having a rather unlikely conversation at rather unlikely time. How many dinner parties with grandparents can you say ‘rectum’ without someone choking? Like so many grandparents, my Grandad is empowered by the printer and the computer, and he ran to get a printed copy of one of my blog posts that I wrote right after my surgery. The company applauded this and I smiled at my unlikely Thanksgiving.

I’d like to think that I’m partially Floridian - having spent not only a thousand vacations here but also a couple of months here for a dance camp. My Grandparents remarked at my lack of pills this time around, and once when I excused myself to go to the bathroom, my Grandmom said, “And now I don’t worry when you say that!”

Although IBD isn’t an infectious disease in an epidemiological sense, it is in a familial sense. My disease has affected so many people in my family, and their support has helped me rally so many times. Upon my arrival to Florida - literally on the way home from the airport - we stopped to pick up a bathing suit, for in the chaos of getting to Boston pre-surgery I had left all of mine back in Nova Scotia. We picked up a tankini - a dapper plum color - and I’ve been in the pool everyday. Pool-sides in Florida bring two quintessential things - pools (evidently) and shuffle board.

Forrest Gump said that life was like a box of chocolates. But I think it’s also like a game of shuffle board. You try your best to score, and sometimes others can knock you down. It’s okay to lose a few rounds, because it’s the game that matters.

In another 60 years, when I’m having my own Thanksgiving dinner with my friends and family, I’m sure I will be thankful for a million more things than I am today. And I hope so, so much that one of those things is that a cure has been found.


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