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Friday, August 17, 2018

Sword of Damocles

I'm going to start this off with a good story.  For the past seven years, I have been getting infusion therapy for my MM at Dana Farber, most recently with Zometa (bone building) infusions every 3 months.  For all this time, Heather has been my primary infusion nurse.  She has been a constant presence in my MM journey, and I have gotten to know and care for her.  She has been one of the constants in my Dana Farber life.  She is young and attractive and has had a constant progression of boyfriends over this time, none of whom have worked out very well.  We used to talk about how she was doing with her latest fling during my infusions.

Finally, she kissed a frog, Jeff, who turned out to be her prince!  She lives in Brookline and they got engaged last fall.  The wedding date was July 21.  Gretchen and I had recently been to a very nice Spanish tapas restaurant in Brookline, the Barcelona, so we thought a gift certificate for there would be a nice wedding gift.  In my July visit to the Farber, I left her with a card and the gift certificate.

Last Monday, I was at the Farber for my checkup and Zometa infusion.  Heather was my infusion nurse again, as I had hoped.  As I sat in the chair waiting, she walked in and asked, "Did you know that the Barcelona was where we had our first date?"  No, I didn't know that, but it was so perfect!  They had used our gift and gone there for dinner the Saturday before, and the staff, hearing their story, treated them to free dessert.  That was nice.  Some things just seem to work out.

Now what about this Sword of Damocles thing?  For those of you who don't know, the Sword of Damocles is a story about an ancient king who had an pandering admirer, Damocles, who envied his power and opulence.  The king offered to exchange places with him for one day, so he could taste that fortune firsthand.  Damocles quickly accepted, but as he sat on the throne, the king arranged that a huge sword hung above the throne held only by a single horses hair.  Realizing that with great power comes great danger, Damocles quickly relented the throne.  

In today's world, the Sword of Damocles is used more generally to denote the sense of foreboding engendered by a precarious situation, especially one in which the onset of tragedy is restrained only by a delicate trigger or chance.

I've been living under the precarious shadow of a potential relapse now for over seven years.  I've been dealing with this on a month to month basis for a long time now.  Every month, my blood test numbers have been coming back positive, which is great!  Only that delicate horse hair has kept the sword at bay.

The question is how have I been dealing with this.  I have not been consumed by a sense of foreboding, as Damocles was, but why not?  Aretha Franklin died today at an age of 76.  She was a legend and left an enormous legacy.  I am 75 years old now, and if that single horse hair should break sometime soon, what would I leave as a legacy?  That bothers me more than the thought of my mortality.  Am I to leave this world as a better place?  Have I done enough to compensate for my sins along the way?  I don't know.

When that sword finally falls, as it must, can I hold my head high and say, "I tried, I really did"?