I start with the words of a very wise wizard.

“The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.”
T.H. White,
The Once and Future King


If the best thing for being sad is to learn, then I will learn to “blog”, and I will send my words out into the world to anyone who wants to follow my story. Maybe it will be a good thing for me. Maybe it will be helpful to others. I hope and trust it will have a happy ending. I have always preferred stories with happy endings.

AND SO IT STARTS

Today is Sunday. Last Thursday I was told by a doctor at Roosevelt Hospital that I have acute leukemia and would need to enter the hospital as soon as possible. Tomorrow morning I check into Sloan Kettering for four weeks of treatment.

The past three days seem more like three months. So much to deal with. So many emotions. Maybe writing them down will bring some order to it all.

After getting the bad news I walked directly to the West Side YMCA to tell them I would be out for a while. I teach science to four and five year olds, and for me it is the best job in the world. I believe in the importance of my work and am continually surprised at how good I am at it and how powerfully I am able to reach my students with my message: scientists are curious, scientists ask questions, scientists look for answers, you are never to young to be a scientist. My students repay me with their love and enthusiasm and by often telling me that because of me they want to be scientists when they grow up. In my work I am assisted by a small gray hand puppet named Smokey. Smokey believes that “science is everything and everything is science”. Generally, Smokey and I agree. He is a fine puppet and loved by the children. He is not checking into the hospital with me…one of the advantages of being a puppet is that you cannot get cancer.

After leaving the YMCA I stopped by the pet store to buy a container of meal worms. These I took to PS 87 so my dear friend Dawnica will use them when she runs the After School classes we teach together each Monday. Next week the children, who are in the first and second grade, will study the behavior of these creatures by building “observation playgrounds” on paper plates with cardboard, cups and straws. It is a very powerful experience and I suspect will start some of them on a path to careers in science.

Dawnica is a wise and wonderful woman. When she is not helping me in the After School, she is the school librarian. Dawnica says she will pray for me…which is a very good thing. I am not a religious person, but if there is a God, I could not ask for a better go-between then Dawnica.

FRIENDS AND FAMILY

I have the best! The outpouring of support these past few days has been amazing. One friend says she will chant for me. Another will drink to my health every evening with a glass of red wine. My brother has ordered me a brand new I Pad in a red leather case…the perfect gift to get me through the next few weeks. I am lucky to have two smart and funny sisters who are full of good advice.

And my friends. There are no words. I have always thought of myself a a shy person with few close friends. It seems that is not true. Your messages have meant so much. I am so grateful for you all. Your being out there is, I suspect, as important to my recovery as the medicines that will be put into my body over the next few weeks. There are too many on you to name, but Ronnie…the past few days have been so much easier because  of you. I thank you in advance for teaching me how to set up and run this blog.

And then there is my little family.

Matthew…who speaks computer. You are so smart and so special.
With that PhD in sight and you are ready to take on the world. Recently I saw the movie about Temple Grandin, and it captured the importance of a mind which views the world differently from most of us every day type humans. I am so proud of you! When I need help with that new IPad, I know you will be there for me.

Maggie…when you were in high school one of your teachers said you would make a marvelous old lady.  Right now the center of your life is your banjo and your band (check out Spirit Family Reunion on myspace and facebook)… and a guy named John. The love between the two of you is electric. Nurture it, and you might just be as lucky in your marriage as I have been in mine.

which brings to the smartest thing I ever did, which was marry the love of my life:

Michael…The past few days are only a sampling of what you have given me. Hour after hour on the phone dealing with hospitals and insurance issues and so much more. I cannot imagine how I would get through this without you. You are so very good and idealistic and smart and funny. I love and respect you more today then on the day we were married.

Well, that is enough for now. I am trying to view this as an adventure and when I am packing my suitcase I pretend I am going on a cruise (dental floss:check, nail clippers:check, special pillow:check).

And so it goes….

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