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It could be worse.

December 8, 2009

I just read a news story that started as follows…

A man was rescued after spending more than four hours Tuesday trapped up to his chest in sewage waste after falling into a Long Island cesspool.

… and I realized that I’d really rather be sitting in the chemo chair than join that man in the cesspool. So, even though chemo is pretty much like getting a root canal once a week and having someone come to my house to poke the tooth with a metal probe all day long on the non-chemo days, I decided that playing a game of “it could be worse” with myself might just keep me from screaming and running down the hall before Thursday’s chemo session. (Long sentence, take a breath.)

For example, even though I face the possibility of a long slow death from cancer, at least I can be sure that I won’t meet this lady’s fate…

Swedish police say they’ve cleared a man who was arrested for allegedly murdering his wife after deciding the culprit was most likely a moose.

[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=moose&iid=7200343″ src=”e/6/d/2/Bull_moose_at_dc1a.jpg?adImageId=8149464&imageId=7200343″ width=”234″ height=”256″ /] Huh. Killed by a moose. The advantage that lady had, of course, is that she didn’t have a solemn-faced doctor sit her down in his office one day and say, “Some time in the next five years you will be killed by a moose.” She was spared the special misery of anticipation. Still, killed by a moose, forewarned or not …. nasty.

Of course, I know that I shouldn’t get my energy from the misery of others. but I have to say that one of the few hopeful spots I had when I was first diagnosed with metastatic disease was walking by the joint replacement ward in the hospital and watching those poor miserable people trying to work their new parts. I thought, “Well, at least I won’t live long enough to have to do THAT.”

Soon I’ll finish a post I’ve been working on about things not to say to a cancer patient. One of the things on many “don’t say” lists is “Any one of us could die any time. I could walk outside right now and get hit by a bus.” I’ll explain in that other post why that’s not a good thing to say to most people, but I’m one of the few who finds that rather hopeful and not a bad option, other than the trauma to the poor bus driver. One lady recently died when a Taco Bell sign fell on her truck. That would spare the bus driver, so maybe we should switch to saying “I could walk outside right now and get hit by a Taco Bell sign.”

There are other quick and unexpected things that can happen in the street that sound worse to me than the proverbial bus or the Taco Bell sign. For example, in 1814, seven people died in the London Beer Flood. Imagine 1.5 million liters of beer bursting forth from a brewery. I know this might be an ideal death for some people, but the bus would be quicker.

Molasses would be slower. Unfortunately, 21 people suffered that fate in 1919 during the Boston Molasses Disaster. Imagine 8.7 million liters of molasses rushing down the street at 35 mph. I am glad that will not happen to me.

Another thing I like to keep in mind is that I can be pretty well assured my own stupidity won’t kill me and that I won’t be one of those family family stories…. Not so for a Ukranian chemistry student who was recently killed by exploding chewing gum. He was in the habit of dipping his chewing gum in citric acid — odd in itself — and forgot one day that he also had a beaker of explosive liquid on his desk. Both liquids looked the same. Dip. Chew. Boom.

Then there are the “who woulda thunk” ways to die. Ways that I most certainly don’t have to worry about. For example, I don’t drink martinis. If Sherwood Anderson had been a teetotaler he might have lived to write more stories. Instead, he died of peritonitis after he swallowed a piece of a toothpick that had been inserted in a martini olive.

I’m also not in the habit of wearing flammable Civil War costumes, so I will most certainly avoid what happened toMartha Mansfield. Poor Martha was an actress who died horribly after a cast member in the movie they were filming lit a cigarette and then tossed a match that accidentally ignited the Civil War costume Martha was wearing. It was 1923 and she was 24 years old. Terrible. Horrible. And not something I don’t need to worry about.

So, ladies and gentlemen, it truly could be worse. At least I have a chance to fight back. And the fight continues. I start radiation tomorrow, which will last for two weeks. At the same time I’ll continue to have chemo on Thursdays.

But it could be worse.

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15 Comments leave one →
  1. Resa permalink
    December 9, 2009 7:34 am

    I think I’d skip the sudden bus demise and opt for the long good-bye. If we all had to wait to die until our affairs were in order, then I’d live longer than anyone. For once, my procrastinating nature would work to my advantage.

    But then, I don’t know if I would want to be stuck in molasses until my affairs were in order. After awhile, I’m sure I’d give in and beg to have it over already!

  2. December 9, 2009 9:10 am

    The lucky few get to die of natural causes in their sleep at a very old age.

  3. Dave Bara permalink
    December 9, 2009 10:26 am

    The Taco Bell sign sounds like an interesting way to go. I’l put that on my list, and look up everytime I hit the drive through!

    db

  4. Lisa Welch permalink
    December 9, 2009 6:59 pm

    Well, I’ve known for a long time that I can have a sick sense of humor, but I have to admit I lol’d at some of those. 😉

    I stopped in to wish you well tomorrow. I hope you’re finding time and energy to enjoy some family festivities this month.

    I’ll look forward to your “what not to say” list. I remember developing one for my husband after I gave birth to Natalie, so he could better prepare for the next child.

  5. heidi permalink
    December 9, 2009 10:24 pm

    I love your idea about writing “what not to say to Cancer patients” a lot of us really don’t know what’s right. I continue to lift you up in prayer daily. Sorry I haven’t picked up the phone to call, I suppose if you were not up to it, you’d just not answer. Do you guy’s have any plans Christmas Eve? if you’re up to it, we’d love to have you over for dinner, but would understand if you’d rather stay home.
    Love you!
    Heidi

  6. Lisa permalink
    December 10, 2009 9:06 am

    Jill, I think I mentioned before I wrote a list of ‘what not to say to a parent who has a child with a disability.’ I found the process very cathartic. I also have a list of 101 reasons of why it is good to have a child with Autism.

    We think too much alike at times. I about fell off the chair laughing at the various ways we could die. I also confess, my family and I found it very helpful in a way to be at the Veteran’s hospital as there are so many others doing worse – that it makes a person pick up their chin and march forward. However, I always pondered how many were looking at my family and thought the same about us 😉

    Prayers and good thoughts! – Lisa

  7. Mame permalink
    December 12, 2009 9:22 am

    Yes. It can always be worse.

    You could be Chuckles the Clown, dressed like a peanut for a parade only to get shelled to death by a rogue elephant.

    As Murray so aptly point out, “It can always be worse. He could have been dressed like Billy Banana and been peeled to death by a Gorilla.”

    That’s why I live my life according to Chuckles’ Credo:

    “A little song, a little dance, a little selzter — down you pants.”

    RI.P. Sweet Chuckles

    Looking forward to the “What not to say …” list.

    Love you.

    Mame

  8. Mame permalink
    December 12, 2009 9:29 am

    …still howling over “Molassess would be slower…” I think that will stick with me for a long time. *snicker*

    My goodness, woman not only are you sick, you are twisted and brilliantly humourous.

    Mame who’s so glad there isn’t a Taco Bell in her town. Or public transportation. But lotsa beer. But really, would that be so bad? …

  9. December 12, 2009 10:17 am

    OMG those are awesome! You are always the ray of sunshine, Jill! *BG*

  10. December 15, 2009 5:02 pm

    Hi Jill –
    I’m going to ask you to put aside your hatred of all things pink for a few minutes to watch the following video. Listen to the music and watch the faces of the dancers. These are all the people who help us through these bad times. This video had me laughing and snapping my fingers while at the same time I had tears streaming down my face remembering all the acts of kindness I experienced during my “year of dreadful medical procedures.”

    Give it a try.

  11. Debbie permalink*
    December 16, 2009 3:40 pm

    Spike TV has a show called “1000 Ways To Die” – it’s pretty entertaining if you’re in the right mood. My favorite was the girl who went fishing for the first time, managed to catch a fish, yanked it out of the water, it came flying through the air and landed in her open mouth where it lodged tightly. Pulling on it caused it to lodge more tightly – the scales created a sort of lock – like velcro. She choked to death. So if you want more ways not to die, look up that show. Kara is even in one of the episodes about the Barium girls from the 1920’s.

    • December 17, 2009 8:46 am

      What – someone couldn’t have cut the fish up to remove it, or done a tracheotomy? Come on, people, think fast!

      • Debbie permalink*
        December 19, 2009 10:19 pm

        The girl was alone. No one there to help.

  12. December 17, 2009 7:27 am

    Bless you, Jill — thinking of you.

  13. December 17, 2009 5:02 pm

    Hi Jill–Annette told me about your blog today at the Holiday Potluck at her workplace (and my former workplace). I’m so sorry to hear that you’re having to go through chemo again. My thoughts are with you.

    Your idea about a post on what to say/ what not to say to a cancer patient is great. My friend whose son died in an accident heard all sorts of awful remarks which were meant to be comforting but just weren’t. Some people even avoided him because they didn’t know what to say. It’s hard to say which is worse.

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