mind fuck

the wedding was beautiful. it did not mess with tradition and went smoothly as a result. the bone marrow transplant has definitely messed with mine and hubby's heads though. what should have been a loving and emotional experience was instead full of anxiety. the dread settled in before we left baltimore county. hubby looks at me and says, "i feel like a baby bird leaving the nest for the first time." his vocalization echoed what had been going through my head all morning. getting to see friends and family AND participate in my brother-in-law's wedding was an amazing priviledge, but leaving the safety net of johns hopkins and our medical team was terrifying.

things got off to a slow enough start. eating dinner at a (slightly crowded) restaurant was only enough of a threat to raise the Hubby Threat Level from green to yellow. until a family with three kids under the age of 5 sat next to us. for the rest of our meal, the whereabouts and proximity of the rugrats was my chief focus. had any of them received a live vaccine or booster lately? do any of them attend that cesspool of germs otherwise known as preschool? have they had chickenpox? etc., etc., etc.

saturday, hubby woke up at 6:30 to go have coffee with his dad. he woke me up to let me know where he was going, and added that his mom was going to be cooking breakfast. instead of murmuring, "oh, that's nice," or "have a good time," my parting words were, "make sure that she knows that you can't have soft-cooked eggs or french toast."

score two for paranoia.

the actual wedding resulted in enough anxiety for three new stomach ulcers. we were seated at the front of the church, kind of away from people...until everyone and their brother came and wanted to hug or shake hands with hubby. (this was the day after one of our docs told us to "permanently break ourselves from the habit of shaking hands--it's how most germs are transmitted.") the affection was genuine and appreciated, but how many of them washed their hands before grabbing hubby's? the reception hall was crowded and we nervously listened for the telltale signs of airbourne illness--coughing and sneezing. hubby and i were both hungry--by now it was going on 4:30 and nothing to eat since a small breakfast--but the food was set out buffet-style, another no-no. i grabbed him a plate of cookies right as they came out of the kitchen (before people could stand around and breathe on them), got a fresh cup of punch, and hoped for the best. at dinnertime, the reception staff were really cool about letting me go back into the kitchen and getting food right out of the giant fridge instead of grabbing stuff off of the buffet for hubby. but my heart sank when i got into the fridge and the rest of the food was already on the buffet trays. how long had it set out while they were artfully arranging it on the tray? did the staff wash their hands before and after handling the meat each time? did the sandwich stuff originate from a deli where it sat out in a big display case for days and days? 'man cannot live on cookies alone,' i told myself and made hubby a sandwich. i got back to the table and gave hubby his sandwich when we realized that i had left our hand sanitizer in my other purse.

i sat and tried to eat while hubby ate his sandwich of meat-of-questionable-origin with his hands after making contact with almost every person in the tight confines of the reception hall. 'this is it,' i thought, 'he is going to catch a bug that is going to interfere with his graft and make him really sick. and it is my fault for not remembering the hand sanitizer or making sure that he had clean food to eat.' i managed a few bites of the food on my plate and could eat no more.

we have been dealing with acute lymphocytic leukemia for seven years now. this is the first time that the cancer has ever affected our thought processes so severely. is this something that will subside with time, or are we doomed to an existence where every public encounter is an invitation for new microbes and viruses? it is easy to make sure that the hard surfaces in our apartment are cleaned with clorox, that our linens are washed in hot water, and that all of our food is washed, sanitized, and/or pre-packaged. however, the world outside of our apartment is a dirty and henceforth scary place.

score three for paranoia.

posted by amanda @ 10:26 PM


At 11/07/2005 01:04:00 PM, Anonymous Real Cancer, Real Lives #5 said...

[...] Amanda over at cancer. it's not just an astrological sign anymore. has written a truthful post that shows us all what it's like to spend on germ patrol for someone you love. [...]


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