Half the Fun

They’d taken Heather’s temperature. Too high. Again.

Time to wait. Again.

For half a moment, I could feel the old station wagon forming up around us.

Longtime readers of this column may remember that my wife Heather was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis about two years ago. At the time, we were more relieved than anxious, since it explained so much that had been going on – the periods of foggy memory, the occasional bouts of weakness, and so on. Better to have an enemy you know, right?

Since her MS is of the “relapse-remission” sort, we even managed to get some stretches where things were just about normal again. Well, as normal as you can get when a person also has Crohn’s disease and ankylosing spondylitis (quite a mouthful, huh), but you know what I mean. During that normal time, she and her doctor started planning ahead. A periodic infusion of a “biological” medicine might help her keep on top of things – basically, trading an occasional and very boring five to seven hours in a chair for the ability to keep the MS on a leash.

No problem. Boring medicine days are why God put the Lumberjack Olympics on TV, right?

But something always seemed to keep that medicine just ahead of us, like a will o’ the wisp in a swamp. Things like paperwork that didn’t make it through the mail, or blood tests that had to be rescheduled again and again because another chronic illness had flared up that day and left Heather unable to come out.

Finally, the preliminaries were over. Medicine Day had come.

Unfortunately, so had the Creeping Crud. You know this one. Maybe you’ve even had it, the one that keeps circling back around for another pass? It bumped up Heather’s temperature, just a bit.

Just enough to postpone the infusion. Twice.

It’s a good thing I already have a bald spot. Less hair to tear out in frustration.

That’s when my mind’s eye began to see the Volvo arrive.

When I was a kid, my parents liked to plan long vacations for all of us. This included, more than once, the Great Overland Trek from Colorado to California, with two adults and three children in the confines of one car for multiple hours.

Mom was an expert at distracting us. Dad planned out small jobs that each of us could do. But inevitably, at some point along the highway, the Official Kids’ Chorus of Summer Vacations would arise.

“Are we there yet?”

“Are we there yet?”

“Are we there yet?”

The answer was obvious, of course. Not yet. Not for a long time. (Maybe not for a very long time, if the chorus started while we were still in Wyoming.) But when the good stuff is still ahead and doesn’t seem to be getting any closer, what else can you do?

Some things don’t change very much in three and a half decades.

We still wind up on long journeys, where we’re not at the wheel. We still find ourselves watching the landscape crawl by. And again and again, it seems like each passing hour brings … another passing hour.

It can be maddening. Or at least wearying. Especially if the resolution refuses to come into sight.

All we can do is trust. That California is out there somewhere. That the road does reach a destination. It’s not easy. But it’s necessary. We just have hang on to each other, do what we can on the journey, and keep traveling.

In our case, at least I know we’ll get there. The infusion will, eventually, happen. The treatment will, eventually, begin. And then we can start on a whole new road.

I hope we packed enough snacks.

 

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