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Ron’s Wedding

A wedding… really?

This blog is not exactly about a wedding, although it is inspired by the wedding of one of best friends. I hope you will find it is more about the love and effort people give you, as well as the confusion created by your abilities, or lack thereof, and the fragile, moving target named “health” we have.

The “short” version of the explanation for the title has to do with our arrival to the great Will Rogers International Airport in Oklahoma City.

Mental images

As we made our way past security into the greeting area, we saw Ron and his beautiful fiancé, Linda, waving at us in the distance. Ron has been extremely supportive in my fight against MM since day one. I knew I would get a check-in call from him at least weekly. He spent a lot of time listening to me about my trials and tribulations with collapsing vertebrae, broken ribs, spinal surgeries, and a bone marrow transplant. To say the least, he was well acquainted with my worst days.

To get into Ron’s first actions upon us getting to him and Linda, I need to speak to his frame of reference. He, and my other best childhood friends, Chris and Randy, along with their significant others (which included Linda), came to see me last August when I was still having a pretty hard time getting around. I was in-between a broken foot and a serious case of cellulitis, as well as still recovering from my transplant and 4th spine operation. That was the physical image Ron had of me when I entered the greeting area.

I’ll take my own luggage…thank you

So, as we reached Ron and Linda, we, of course, greeted each other with hugs, kisses, and smiles. As we finished and made our way to the car, Ron reached for my roll-on to take it with him. My response was to tell him I was fine, and I would take it myself.

His action in itself was not a big deal, but the fact that he reached to help me and left my wife Sue (with the bigger suitcase) on her own, spoke volumes to his view of my health and weaknesses. Another thing to consider is that Ron is about a 9.99 out of 10 on the chivalry scale.

When I responded to Ron that I could take my own suitcase, he immediately realized his very forgivable faux pas. His immediate response was then to reach for Sue’s suitcase. His next response was classic. He looked at Linda and said something like “You know, Mike writes a blog and is always observing people’s reactions to his situation.” “I’m always wondering if I’ll do something that gets me into one of them. This might be it.”

I looked at him and said, “You’re right. This might be it. If you do, I’ll title it Ron’s Wedding.”

Pushing forward

We just returned from the trip. Because the wedding was three pretty good-sized states away, it required that we fly. This required handling heavy luggage (I was not going to pay ridiculous baggage fees), walking long distances through airports, and staying very busy for three full days. It forced me to push through a lot of new physical challenges and fatigue. I noticed many things about my abilities to do, and not do certain things.

My conclusions from the trip included some good news and bad news. I always like getting the bad news out of the way first, so let’s start there.

The bad news

The first piece of bad news is; I am still very limited in many respects. Although I can roll a piece of luggage through an airport, I can’t pull it off of the luggage belt, lift it into overhead storage, or even pick it up off the floor to unpack it on the bed without taking big risks. Being a pretty seasoned traveler, seeing these limitations was tough to experience even though I knew that it would probably be the case.

The other “bad news” is the fatigue thing we all know about. Although I am pretty satisfied with how I held up overall, I’ve been paying for it the last few days. I guess the gas tank is only so big and going hard for a couple of days just empties it out faster and leaves a lot of room for fuel.

The good news

Here’s the good news (yay!)……

One year ago, I couldn’t even look at a suitcase without pain shooting through my back and ribs. Walking 100 yards would be about the most I could handle, and that would put me in physical distress. I would nap one to two hours per day plus ten hours per night, where I used to be able to perform on six hours. I couldn’t eat and was still losing weight. Unfortunately, I could go on and on…..

I remember early on, myeloma and stem cell transplant vets telling me it would get better. Of course, I was not interested in waiting, so it was difficult projecting myself to the “healthier” future. Also, the only thing that mattered at the time was how totally sh***y I felt. Waiting to feel better wasn’t exactly the best solution for me, but unfortunately, I didn’t have much of a choice in the matter.

Somehow, a year has passed, and I am feeling better in a lot of ways. Am I back to where I was before MM? Not even close, and I understand I never will be. Relative to a year ago though, I’ve come a long way. The deal is, that from one day to the next, or one week to the next, where I am on the improvement scale, moves. That is not only confusing to me, but more confusing to the Rons of the world.

Confusion is OK

This up and down movement in “wellness” will continue because of setbacks and/or new limits I may not be aware of right now. It will of course, continue to promote confusion to everyone about just how well I am, and what I’m capable of doing. Hopefully, one of the setbacks won’t be the one I will leave unnamed.

Overall, the trend for me, has been positive though. The advisers that said it would get better were right and it’s the same advice I pass on to others. I know this will not be the case for everyone. I have heard from so many blood cancer “survivors” at the same point in their journey as me, many who are much better, and many much worse in their “wellness”. For most though, I can say that if they had set their mind to improving on what they were capable of in their personal situation, things got better, even though it may have been incrementally. I can’t say much though, to whether or not it lessened confusion.

So…to all you wonderful and confused Rons out there, called by many different names, thank you for looking out for us.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Yolanda Brunson-Sarrabo moderator
    3 months ago

    I haven’t found this to be my case, as everyone sees my tenacity, and doing so much… they don’t bring on that chivalry or making me feel “different”. People try to accommodate and at times, they don’t know how and what to do. Sometimes this journey has no rule book.

  • Mike Padjen author
    3 months ago

    I hear you Yolanda, No rule book at all. I have had situations with people I’m around more often, seeing me improve to the point that their expectations of my abilities are pretty far beyond what they really are. In a way I like that better because improvement is evident to them. Sometimes it’s difficult to say no because I feel if they think I can do something, then I can… Not always a wise frame of mind…

  • Yolanda Brunson-Sarrabo moderator
    3 months ago

    @mpadjen Totally agree Mike. When people see you on an off day, they think it’s the condition (which could be the case) rather it just being an off day. Funny, we’re all not perfect and many who don’t know any better put a lot of pressure on us to be perfect in all ways, that’s not fair at the end of the day. We must remember we do what we can when we can- period.

  • Ann Harper moderator
    3 months ago

    Friends definitely mean well and are constantly asking how I feel. For me, I dont want to be looked at as though I’m weak or frail. I had one friend who acted as though I were dying. It made me uncomfortable, upset, and a bit depressed. None of those are good feelings. I definitely understand why you wrote this article.

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