Centipedes

Mitch Schneider
April 7, 2021

*Note: There was a glitch and the video is frozen at 5:16. We’re working on it. The audio is fine, however.

Just thinking about centipedes is icky!

It’s that long body and all those legs. The fact they have pincers and are venomous doesn’t help much either. I may be twisted, but when I think about a centipede, I don’t think of a hundred little feet. I think about fifty pairs of little shoes!

Fifty little shoes and always waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Over a lifetime, I’ve had more than a shoe or two drop. The most recent starting with my diagnosis of bone marrow cancer in 2014. I had a pneumonia shoe drop eighteen months ago. Along with a pleurisy shoe soon thereafter. You may have heard another shoe hit the floor when I had to deal with bilateral pulmonary emboli. A couple of other shoes hit the ground when I was blind-sided with pericarditis and pleurisy, probably caused by Graft versus Host Disease and had to have a liter of fluid drained from around my heart?

And, of course, there is my current battle with post-herpetic neuralgia left in the wake of a particularly grim episode of Shingles Zoster (Get your Shingrix shot!).

It seems as if there is always the possibility of a delay in your recovery caused by a shoe or two falling to the floor.

Cancer patients—Particularly, cancer survivors, like me—are acutely aware of this phenomenon. Depending upon the nature of your cancer or the challenges faced in overcoming it, the possibility of a recurrence is always floating around the dark recesses of your mind. Along with the possibility of a visit from one of its ugly cousins.

Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop

I’ve been thinking about shoes dropping a lot over the past few weeks. Especially, now as I prepare for a bone marrow biopsy marking the two-year anniversary of my transplant. Biopsies are important. But this one has special significance. Especially, if there is still no evidence of the mutations that caused my Primary Myelofibrosis.

If that shoe doesn’t drop. If it fails to hit the ground. There is a good chance my doctors at the City of Hope will start playing around with another “C-word.” A C-word that reflects being cured and cancer-free. And, maybe then, I’ll be able to flush my mind of the images of that creepy little insect once and for all.

An Un-Anticipated Postscript

This is an unanticipated postscript. Something that literally just happened and has more than a little to do with running out of shoes to drop. That, and another phenomenon common to cancer patients. The sense of community that develops among patients and family members thrown together in Clinic or treatment. An unexpected, inexplicable comradery that allows strangers to become closer than you would otherwise expect.

Lesley and I have become involved in a number of these relationships. I don’t know how to explain what that’s like to share an experience so profoundly powerful it welds souls together.

We just received a text from one of our Clinic friends. A couple that just had its last shoe drop. An unexpected complication of their shared illness that required surgery and will deny them any chance of the same kind of transplant I was fortunate enough to receive. The family is gathering as I write this. Taking this opportunity to say what has to be said. Recognizing the urgency.

I find myself grieving the loss of a close friend I rarely saw and never really had. And, yet it is someone with whom I have shared a lot. More intimacies shared than with some of my oldest and closest friends.

Maybe, that’s why I try not to complain too much when that other shoe drops. Mostly, because as long as there is another shoe falling out of the sky, you’re pretty much OK.



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