Sunday, March 4, 2012

What doesn't kill you...

Finally, my latest Mystery has been solved!  You may recall that the latest in a series of Mystery problems (all deserving of capital Ms) has been a chronic cough along with shortness of breath.  My inability to talk very long without lapsing into a coughing fit began before Christmas.  Scans, tests, medications and inhalers didn’t help, and this current episode of my version of House was finally solved this week.  It turns out that I have an endobronchial lesion in one of the main airways in my right lung.  I learned that this is a rare condition (no surprise there).  This was found when I had a bronchoscopy as a last resort.  Upon waking up from this incredibly uncomfortable test, my doctor told me the lesion has to come out and pointed me to an interventional pulmonologist who can remove the lesion with a laser during another bronchoscopy.

Okay, let’s look at the bright side:  1.  No more Mystery.  We know what’s going on and what to do.  The doctor who will fix this has a reputation for being the greatest thing since Batman.  2.  It’s not cancer.  3.  It’s not Graft vs. Host Disease.  4.  The treatment doesn’t involve scalpels or chest tubes and may be a same day procedure.  5.  My cough will finally be gone, allowing me breathe much easier.  It’s all good!

But, another surgical procedure?  Are you kidding me?  This brings me to my latest mental musings.  There’s a new Kelly Clarkson song on the radio, What Doesn’t Kill You, referring to the phrase, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”  She is, of course, singing about becoming stronger after a romantic breakup.  What pop star wouldn’t use the phrase in this context?  But I’ve been thinking a lot about this rather clichéd saying, often used when people don’t know what else to say.

Sometimes it’s true.  What doesn’t kill you does make you stronger.  I suppose I can claim this to be true on several levels.  But my first response is, what doesn’t kill you just doesn’t kill you.  My second response is, what doesn’t kill you makes you tired. 

My aunt Pat, a full time caregiver for my uncle Vic, agrees with me on this.  Vic had a devastating stroke in 2003, which left him paralyzed on one side of his body.  His life has become a daily struggle in countless ways.  Vic was a Marine, a protector, a jack-of-all-trades, the strongest man I’ve ever known – a badass with a big heart.  What didn’t kill him did not make him stronger, it left him broken. 

Caregivers are put to the test just as much, sometimes more, than those suffering from a major crisis.  Pat said it best:  “What doesn’t kill you makes you smarter and wiser.”  Furthermore, she and I, along with so many others, are living proof that what doesn’t kill you tests you, hard.

After all that testing, fatigue, wisdom, and sheer survival, in the end, there is one fundamental truth, at least for me:  What hasn’t killed me makes me grateful, every moment of every day.  And that, I must admit, makes me stronger. 

It all comes back to gratitude.  In addition to curing this cough at the end of the month, I hope to be taken off my last transplant medication this week, and I’ll be receiving my first round of vaccinations (I’m almost 16 months old, and need to have my baby shots all over again).  I’ll also be traveling this month for the first time in two years.  I’m going to Arizona and Alabama in less than two weeks to visit friends and relatives.  My father in Phoenix turns 89, and my grandaunt in Tuscaloosa turns 90.  I’m calling it the Senior Circuit.  So yes, as always, there’s much to be grateful for. 

Kelly Clarkson’s heart is in the right place.  I should probably stop thinking so much.




  1. Love you Kathy...broken, tired weak, wise...but very much alive!


  3. Have a wonderful, well-deserved vacation, even if it is on the senior circuit! Oh, senior or golden years has been replaced by the term, "Mature Adulthood."!


If you don't have a Google email account and you don't know which "profile" to choose, select the Anonymous option. If you'd like your name to appear, you may sign your comment. Thank you!