Another good day. The leukocyte and neutrophil absolute counts continue to rise steadily. Unfortunately the latter was not quite high enough to allow me to go outside today. Maybe tomorrow. But there was dispiriting news today with respect to getting out tomorrow. BF has a doctor’s appoint in the morning, but the docs here will not release me if she is contagious. So, it looks like I’m going to be spending my remaining days here routing for BF’s immune system, not mine. What bitter irony! I confess, this was a huge disappointment for me. But there is nothing else to be done.
BF had another house cleaning party today. And again, the turnout was great! We are incredibly fortunate to have caring and helpful friends.
C and K came all the way from Long Beach, CA to help BF around the house last week and this week. Our relationship with C goes a long ways back to before MF was even two years old and she was a hall director in the campus dorm that we lived in as Faculty in Residence. Then later after a bad break up she lived with us for a year, sharing a room with MF in our then postage stamp of a house. Thanks to another friend who drove them to the hospital while BF continued to clean, I was able to visit with them. It was wonderful to see them. We had a long and happy chat; and they brought lasagna! Their coming all this way to help was a magnificent act of generosity and love.
A friend sent me a copy Havi Carel’s Illness just before I entered the hospital, and I’ve finally started reading it. She’s a philosopher who was diagnosed with a super rare, degenerative, and incurable lung disease. Her story is far more harrowing than mine. But her account is presented with admirable insight and sensitivity. She argues for the importance of phenomenology in understanding illness. I can’t say that I agree with all of it, but I find it an important and remarkable piece of writing. I’ll, no doubt, have more to say about it as I digest it, but let me leave you with an insightful quotation that is relevant to the Horace-Jesus-Epictetus attitude that I’ve discussed.
“Ironically, by really having something to worry about my mind was cleansed from many sources of anxiety. So many things didn’t matter. Only one thing really mattered. And that one thing was beyond my control. I learned to respect two things; that the laws of cause and effect governing the universe may generate suffering over which we have no control and that everything, including myself, was ephemeral.”
Those are incredibly tough lessons. Many of us want to deny the first with magical thinking, which, I’ve argued, can all too easily have victim blaming implications. And the latter we may know intellectually for a very long time before we feel it in our bones. But recall that the Horace-Jesus-Epictetus message of Carpe Diem is good news. It’s the counsel of prudence to the anxious. A message of the happiness that can be attained once we accept those lessons.
Still, somewhere in the back of my head I hear the melodious voice of Ernst Bloch asking where the place is for hope if we so narrow our focus on only what seems to be under our control in the here and now.