Be the Match Part 4: The Shots

The hardest part about the intermediate step in the stem cell donation process is not the pain from the needles.

You might think that it would be, since I received two injections for five days straight.1 The needles went into the fleshy skin on the bottom of my triceps, which is not an area I’m used to thinking about. The nurse alternated arms so I wouldn’t have freckles of needle-sticks peppered all over the same area of skin. She would pinch the skin and then press the needle in, pushing the medication through the syringe slowly to avoid disturbing the skin too much or losing any of the liquid. The needles hurt; but they’re not the worst part. Continue reading “Be the Match Part 4: The Shots”

Be The Match Part 3: Count Your Blessings

This post is a little out of order chronologically but it seemed worth it to publish in order to continue the story. Every word was written by my wife, who has been by my side through the entire process. Also, any reference to time or days are simply based on when she wrote it and shouldn’t be considered indicators of the date of the collection procedure. Please also read Part 1 and Part 2 of the series. Enjoy!

For those of you who don’t already know, Aaron matched with someone who needs a stem cell donation. After a few hiccups on our end (thanks, kids, for getting Daddy and me both sick), Aaron finally started the donation process. We’re not going anywhere for a while (6-8 hours to be exact); anyone have a Snickers? Continue reading “Be The Match Part 3: Count Your Blessings”

Pear Shapes And Water Bottles

I’ve never considered myself an artist.

The most generous among you would say that I am an artist with words and I would thank you politely while struggling somewhat to accept the compliment. In this case, though, I’m referring to visual art.

I do have some artistic talent. I can draw a fairly straight line without a ruler, for instance, and I know a little about the use of coloring, shadow and perspective. My drawings are usually close enough to the image in my head that someone else would be able to tell what I intended without having to ask. Continue reading “Pear Shapes And Water Bottles”

Be The Match, Part 2: The Physical Exam

This is the second part of a series I’m writing documenting my experiences donating stem cells through Be The Match. If you missed it, here is Part 1. Enjoy!

“I’ll tell you, it’s a good thing it’s the women who give birth,” she said with a chuckle.

I couldn’t see the nurse’s face when she made the comment because my eyes were still closed. I felt myself manage a smile but couldn’t quite muster words at that point. It wouldn’t have made much of a difference if my eyes had been open; she had been wearing a mask over her mouth since I had met her approximately a half hour earlier. Still, I pictured a good-natured grin and a twinkle in her eye as she checked my blood pressure again and replaced the ice packs on my forehead and neck. Her tone was pleasant as she coaxed me back to consciousness, without a hint of sarcasm or judgment. Continue reading “Be The Match, Part 2: The Physical Exam”

Be The Match, Part 1: Answering the Call

It was a Tuesday afternoon when I made the phone call, the kind of lazy summer day when everything seems slower. Even when work is busy during the summer, I feel like I’m walking through the shallow end of a swimming pool, dragging my feet and struggling to build momentum, while the world seems to continue rushing by. I’d been at my desk, slogging through a service plan or progress notes or some other task that isn’t the main reason why one chooses to go to social work school, when the small number “1” suddenly appeared in parentheses in one of my email tabs. I clicked on the email and immediately sat up straighter in my desk chair.

“You’ve been identified as a possible marrow match,” the email read. “Please call me immediately.” Continue reading “Be The Match, Part 1: Answering the Call”

A Little Night Music

Trudy had been asleep on the couch for about a half hour when I woke her. It had been a long week for her, from shuttling Shayna to errands and the beach to dealing with various bouts of sibling drama each evening. I had tried suggesting that she go to bed when I first saw her eyes starting to close but she protested that she was awake. I let the episode finish, knowing full well that I would have to fill her in on the details of the end of the show when she was ready to hear them later on. She began stirring when I rubbed her shoulder, lifted her head up and looked at the clock.

“I fell asleep,” she said, squinting up at me. “Sorry. Did you finish the episode?”

“It’s fine,” I answered. “You didn’t miss much.” Continue reading “A Little Night Music”

What Would I Have Done?

The song stuck with me from the first time I heard it.

I felt taken by the rhythm, the gradual increase in intensity of the electric guitar and the way the singer’s attitude came through in his lyrics. He was brash and self-assured; he knew that he was talented and he challenged the universe to try to stop him. He oozed confidence in a “Come at me, bro” type of way that I almost admired. In most situations, I would still prefer to remain quiet and listen to others rather than broadcast my own accomplishments. But the high-volume chords and the pounding of the bass drum were perfect for boosting my motivation whenever I needed it. Continue reading “What Would I Have Done?”

Eavesdropping on a Young Singer (or, What Makes “The Greatest Showman” Great)

I’d just come in from the kitchen to put my lunch in my bag when I heard it. It was soft, so much so that I almost couldn’t make out the words. I placed the tune immediately, though, and the words became clearer soon afterward.

“When the sharpest words wanna cut me down… I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out…”

Eitan was sitting at his table, building a Lego set or drawing a picture or working in his summer math book. He was completely engrossed in the task at hand and didn’t even notice that I had come into the room, let alone that I was listening to him singing to himself. He worked quickly, his eyes darting back and forth from the instructions to his manipulating fingers, his voice lilting ever so slightly as he sang each line.

“I am brave, I am bruised, I am who I’m meant to be. This is me.”

I smiled broadly and returned to the kitchen so I wouldn’t interrupt him. Continue reading “Eavesdropping on a Young Singer (or, What Makes “The Greatest Showman” Great)”

At Least For a Little Longer

“Did you hear that, Shayna?” I asked.

I was in the process of preparing breakfast when I heard the click of the door handle opening. The dishwasher had been emptied, the French toast was heating up in the microwave and the eggs were scrambling in the frying pan. I heard a couple of soft steps on the hardwood floor, followed by a pause and the toilet flushing. I heard the rush of water from the bathroom faucet and then he appeared in the kitchen.

“Oh, Eitan awake!” Shayna exclaimed happily from the counter behind me. “Hi Eitan!”

I looked up from the eggs at the boy standing in front of me. He looked… older, somehow. He still looked the part of a six-year-old but there seemed to be a change in the way he was carrying himself. He looked taller than he had the day before and his face seemed to have aged overnight. His tousled hair still hinted slightly at kindergarten but his posture and his suddenly broad shoulders spoke clearly of first grade. Continue reading “At Least For a Little Longer”

Being Jewish in a German Airport

I don’t usually like to put disclaimers at the start of blog posts. I actually don’t really like putting disclaimers before any sort of comment because it seems like no matter how clearly I’m able to explain the reasoning or intent behind what I’m about to say, someone will end up interpreting it in the opposite way. Whether that happens because they think my disclaimer is insincere or because the disclaimer includes the opposite idea and I’ve just put it into their head is sort of irrelevant. The point is that I think disclaimers usually create a bias or a tension before the actual discussion can even start. And yet, even with all of that said, I still feel like I need a preface of some sort here because the subject matter feels a bit uncomfortable.

Ugh, never mind. I’ll just come out and say it and I’ll explain afterwards:

I felt really weird at the airport in Germany because I’m Jewish. Continue reading “Being Jewish in a German Airport”