A Streetcar Named DilaudidSeptember 30, 2009
Somehow, I have turned in to Blanche DuBois.
I spend lots and lots of time in the bathtub and I find myself suddenly dependent on the kindness of strangers. I’ve been quiet in the blogosphere for a while, trying to wrap my mental game around some new treatment and ongoing issues relating to chronic illness. Frankly, it blows. I’ve been in a moody place that isn’t particularly inspirational, heroic or even interesting so I just decided to keep my trap shut. But, I think I’ve figured out what’s made me particularly mopey and I think its important to share.
Accepting charity sucks.
I said it.
I am EXCEPTIONALLY grateful for EVERYONE who had shown me profound kindness and generosity over the last 18 months. The outpouring of love and assistance has been truly inspirational. But. Accepting help and gifts and cash from your friends, family and radio fans is a very creepy feeling. I feel totally undeserving. Not because I’m a rotten person or anything, its just Marc and I have it so much better than most. We have great insurance. Marc has an impressive job with a supportive employer. I have access to many support organizations, simply by living in a major city. Somehow, I feel like I’m robbing the truly needy.
That being said, I’ve also learned that friends and family desperately want to “do” something to help. Sadly, they can’t make my disease go away or do chemo for me so many feel quite helpless, which sucks in its own way. In an effort to help loved ones who want to offer some comfort, I suggested they send Jewel or Target gift cards. I made an effort to ask for help, as loved ones have requested.This summer has been tough all over and we can always use stuff to make mine or Marc’s life just a tiny bit easier. I’ve treated myself to new bedding to keep me comfy and a wicked cool red grocery cart that I’m looking for ways to trick out. I’m planning to get a yoga mat and try to channel some pretzel healing karma or chi or whatever it is you get from Yogis that don’t carry pic-a-nic baskets. I’m even flying to Vegas to watch my pal run her 50th marathon in 50 states courtesy of miles from a terrific pal with miles to share. My dear pals Tim and Katherine even set up a donation website where you can donate toward my future care. I’m keeping it all in a savings account, just in case I hit a cap on my insurance pay outs or I have access to a surgical procedure out of network. Those are just a few examples; there are many many more.
Having a bit of a financial cushion is extremely comforting as I look at the insurance statements that roll in every day. But I can’t separate the guilt and even a bit of shame for accepting other peoples hard earned dough. I get it. I asked people for help. But, its still weird being on the receiving end. What’s worse is I haven’t written a single thank you note. I’ve saved names and contact info, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. Not that I’m not incredibly grateful; its just so embarrassing somehow. I feel enormously selfish for not offering a simple written “thanks” to all the generous souls who have offered numerous forms of support, but I’m truly at a loss for words. (I know, it seems impossible.) And the longer time passes, the more rotten I feel.
Please know I appreciate every single gesture, note, card and check. Its just every time I try and muster the mojo to start writing, I stare at the haunting blank note cards until I can’t take it anymore. Then I dip in to my stash of narcotics and soak in the tub. Its the truth and it ain’t pretty. I’m not trying to excuse myself from the responsibility of gratitude or make anyone feel awkward. I just wanted to share my feelings in an effort to explain my discomfort and out of character behavior. And I don’t imagine my feelings are unusual. I’ll bet plenty of tumorous folks out there feel similarly strange accepting assistance in a variety of forms.
So, please don’t think I’m an ungrateful bastard. I’m just embarrassed and tongue-tied. Probably a little high as well. I promise I’ll try again, once I dry off.