Sunday, July 13, 2008

Online Connectivity

Last night, I grilled some cheeseburgers, while Dori made her healthy homemade fries. I had not fired up the home Weber in some time. I loved that Dori ate the whole burger; I actually had to ask her to slow down! We used low fat all natural ground chuck, mixed with some magic spices. Dori's had some issues with guacamole, we think, because of high fat content. She had no issues last night.

Watching Dori and other leukemia survivors and patients - in person and through blogs and CaringBridge posts - has been eye-opening. Virtual online connection can be like having extended family. It's all about shared experiences. Recently, Dori expressed guilt for the first time about surviving. She had read where someone had relapsed and died. I've read many tales of surviving soldiers who watched their comrades die and say, "Why me? How come I'm alive?" The parallel is there.

There are two issues here: the guilt thing and the virtual connection thing. My take on the guilt, as I shared with Dori, is that her feeling seems very normal. We know many factors have a bearing on Dori's long-range prognosis, but her outcome and the outcomes of others are never certain. It's part of the cruelty of cancer. We only know the choices any transplantee makes are important. But why does she get to plod on, while others don't? It's a fair question.

I don't believe we get to answer everything here. It's part of the test. Others, especially scientific-minded folk or some engineers, sometimes are prone to believing otherwise. I see their viewpoint, but just can't imagine having to process our situation that way. I'd be a mess. I have to rely on my faith to keep me on track. I think Dori is the same way, though she has a strong proclivity for math.

The virtual online thing is also interesting. After reading PJ's blog entry, I thought about this a lot this morning. Dori sometimes ruminates, "Should I keep reading about others, or just stay away and focus on my own task at hand?" There are connectivity benefits, like learning how others deal with certain situations and reading success stories; there are negatives, like watching blood cancers claim another life or seeing people's lives come unraveled.

At the end of the day, I like Dori's perspective, which is like PJ's. Both women believe reading some unsettling stories is part of the burden of staying connected. Both women, moreover, believe they have an opportunity to help others. Life is about giving, not taking. Case in point: Dori is working on a bone marrow donor registry drive at Vanderbilt, with several other projects on the drafting board. Dori said when the negatives start outweighing the positives, she'll stop surfing the Web.

We had that situation last summer when math-minded Dori went searching online for survivor rates for AML patients. That was a hole she needed to get out of, and I'm glad she did. It didn't hurt that she read Lance Armstrong's book. You may recall Lance was told, "Ninety-five percent of folks in your situation are dead within six months."

Lance said, "I'm in the 5% category ... Have a nice day, see you in France."

1 comment:

pj said...

Nicely put, Jim.