Drinking from a Hose

When I was a kid in Moweaqua, Illinois, we worked hard and played hard, especially in the summer. The drought in the late 50’s was a difficult time. The temperatures soared into the 100’s. I remember cracks so big in the ground that we could stick our arms deep into the earth. Of course my arms were a bit smaller at the time, but you get the point.

It was during those hot, sweltering summers that we would not take time to go into our overheated, un-air conditioned homes to get a drink. Instead, we turned to the readily available garden hose. When I first learned this skill, I often turned the hose on full blast and stuck it in my mouth. You can guess the outcome. H2O overload. I had two choices, turn down the water volume, or learn to take in just a portion of the stream. Since the faucet was often several feet from the hose end, I quickly adapted to the second option. Those were refreshing drinks, though we were warned that spiders sometimes made their home in abandoned hoses. (I never saw one, but still when I drink from a hose, I think about that warning.)

I feel like I am drinking from the hose of life turned on full blast. So much has happened since my diagnosis of CLL in the winter of 2006. I have become well acquainted with two wonderful local oncologists, endured multiple chemotherapy treatments (I’ve lost count of how many), and exhausted the three major treatment options. If I had a dollar for every time I had my arms stuck with a needle and my fingers pricked, I would be a wealthy man. I have sat for untold hours in the chemo room, reading numerous books, listening to unending songs, and visiting with numerous fellow cancer patients.

It could be overwhelming, but I have applied the theory of drinking from a hose to life. I take what I can and let the rest flow on by. I refuse to let negative emotions and feelings of worthlessness overtake me. I refuse to let life trample me into my grave. This philosophy keeps me sane and happy. I try to be an encouragement to others in the same position as I, helping them laugh a bit, listening to their stories, and sharing in their sorrows and victories. In essence, I’m helping them drink from the side of the stream. I have always done the same for my doctors and nurses. It is not easy for them to administer caustic drugs into the veins of their patients, knowing that some of them will become ill from the treatment, and others will die anyway. I have watched as several nurses could not take the stress and moved on to other less emotional jobs. I have watched others grow stronger with each passing day. God bless them for their dedication.

What I really want to do is tell you that you don’t have to take the full stream of life events at once. Take what you can and let the rest go. Life is not only easier that way, it is more rewarding as well.

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