So, three cheers for the bikers in the dreadful heat! Here in Atlanta things are hot, hot, hot and they seem to be the same on the coast, coast, coast. Did you catch the point in yesterday’s photos showing that it was so hot that Carl’s bike tube blew out? Talk about hot air. (No, not Carl, I mean the ambient temperature.) As you can see from the photos, the riders need to take care of each other. We see Bob and Carl helping each other with the tires and Kate helping with keeping the website going.
That’s a lot like Annie’s mom, Perla. As you know, I got to meet Annie last week in the infusion center as Annie sat like a vampire, guzzling down the red stuff (Well, actually no guzzling was going on. It was more like drip…drip….drip…). Annie’s mom, Perla was by her side. Annie says Perla (Annie calls her mom, not Perla) is great. She found Annie a personal trainer and does a bang up job of generally taking good care of her. I asked Perla what it was like to be a care giver and if she had any thoughts to share. I was really curious because I too had been in the caregiver situation. Truth be told, I am STILL in the caregiver role.
So, Perla said that she’s a mom of 3 daughters and, as most moms, has had great training (by them) on how to be a caregiver. At one point she mused that her caregiving had risen to a fine art. Yes, most moms will say the same. We moms seem to be caregivers extraordinaire and we expect at some time our kids will be on their own. That is, until something like cancer rears its ugly head. A Medusa with many horrid tentacles reaching and arching and hissing. All very scary. Perla will tell you it is very scary as a care giver. I will tell you that it is very scary as a care giver. Bob once told me that he thought it must be harder to be a care giver than a patient. He got a small taste of that when I was diagnosed with cancer myself this spring and he had to be my caregiver….but I digress….
Perla told me that this situation has taught them all about what is really important…and it has reinforced something she already knew about her Annie…that Annie is a woman of great inner strength and strong will and they each keep each other strong and moving forward through this ordeal, while looking to the future.
I had to agree when Perla said that being a caregiver can be a lonely job at times and is one that can cause a person to become very strong, having so much responsibility and such. But, the statistics indicate otherwise. In research we get at home from the various organizations devoted to bone marrow transplants and leukemia, we have come to learn that care givers are very likely to end up with PTSD. Yep PTSD. And long term, unresolvable issues. Who knew? If you hadn’t had to go through something like this, you might think the worst was for the patient. And of course, that is not to make light of the situation when someone is hanging on by a thread. But, one doesn’t usually suspect that the care giver is also hanging on by a thread.
Last year about this time Bob and I thought that our threads were both at times as threadbare as could be and stronger than they had been since his diagnosis so we decided to take a short trip to celebrate our 30th anniversary. At the time, we believed in our hearts that he was healed but we still were anxious and had the occasional weary heart from all the drama. We took a trip to Texas for no particular reason other than it was pretty close to Atlanta (we had thought overseas was too risky) and it seemed fun.
In the planning, Bob was a bit sneaky and since the traditional gift of 30 years is pearls, he had planned to have us eat lunch at the Pearl Brewery in San Antonio. (Nice touch, pearls and beer). But, as fate would have it, it was a Monday and the joint was closed. I did not know that pearls was a special symbol of love for 30 years of wedded bliss and didn’t understand why he was agitated that this restaurant was closed. So, we went in search of other grub and ended up at a roadside gas station with the best local bbq done in a smoker out back by the dogs. (Just kidding, there were no dogs but the front of the gas station did sell hand made porch swings produced by a neighbor).
Anyway, to make a long story short, later that day we were looking to have a true anniversary dinner fitting for 30 years of fun and drama and were swinging into Austin, Texas with our rental car. One scan on Yelp from my iPhone for a restaurant and it was sealed. Bob said, “we’re going there!” He wanted to recognize the 30th anniversary tradition and so, we ate at, believe it or not, no lie here guys, Perla. It wasn’t Pearls but close enough.
Not all of the details of that intimate dinner conversation can be shared here but drinks were raised, tears were shed, promises were made and kept, and the waiter brought us free cake. He seemed a bit overwhelmed by the table with the patient and the caregiver sharing intertwined leukemia-orange bands standing in as “forever-I’m-yours-bracelets” at Perla.