The following is the 42nd poem in Valley of Blue Hope: Poems Before and After Diagnosis of Cancer. https://www.createspace.com/4598960
I was supposed to be the stronger one, who would live the longest. We did not plan for the possibility that “the one you don’t see coming” might creep up on me and I would be diagnosed with a blood disorder, with a problematic prognosis.
Of course, “the one you don’t see coming” crept up on Kamalani, our bichon, and the vet pronounced him blind and diabetic, needing insulin shots twice a day. Some dogs live for years with diabetes, without sight, and, in my condition, I take that to heart. How long can my treatment on dacogen keep me alive at a quality of life that is acceptable, still a part of things, still writing and publishing poetry and other books? There’s no cure for my condition except for a stem cell transplant. I’ve sent my blood samples in to the transplantation center in St. Louis, so the search for a possible match can be found. I’m told that at my age, 75, transplantation is a double-edged sword: it can cure me, or it can kill me. Recovery takes a whole year. Would that year be better spent enjoying the quality of life that I now have? Meanwhile, I am completing this post. Yesterday I mowed the lawn, taking long rests after cutting several swathes, but I got it done and the yard looks beautiful.
While we were in St. Louis, Joan had her second openheart surgery to replace her leaky pig value with a cow valve. After her first open heart surgery in Palm Springs, she was told that she would probably not outlast her pig valve. But such is the speed at which modern medicine is progressing that she could have a replacement valve that the surgeon says will leave her feeling “a thousand times better.”
My friend of thirteen years is now diabetic
and blind, requiring two shots of insulin a day.
Without insulin, he drinks water voraciously
and can’t control his bladder. He stumbles
into table legs and chairs, following the wall
to find the doggie door. It breaks my heart
when the door is locked to keep the other dog in
and my friend has an accident.
He can’t sleep in our bed anymore, so he snuggles nearby
into his doggie cave, still a part of the pack, and yet not.
He knows I miss his warm body under the covers, warming
my feet. When his companion barks at a dog in the road,
my friend wants out, so brave and game, stumbling
off the deck steps, barking and rushing blindly forward
till he bangs into the chain link fence. With all his deficits,
he wants to be part of things. I love this dog so much
it hurts, but in my wasted state I can’t manage him
and finally ask my wife to have him put down. I promised
I’d never leave you, yet I have. I vowed I’d be there at
your dying, yet I was not. O Come to me, Kamalani.