MAINTENANCE

maintenance-cancer“Your annual exam sounds like taking the car in for maintenance.  They “flush the lines” and “blow the pipes”, then do some diagnostics.  The mechanic then tells you that your car may have a few dings and scars on the outside but still looks pretty darn good.  The engine is running well after their “tune-up”.  It may backfire once in a while and is a little slower going up a long hill, but it gets there.”

– Dr. Earl Schuman

I love this analogy because:

the human body = mechanics = plumbing = gardening, etc…

All systems are like, and can be used to explain each other. By making analogies like this, our great fears, such as mortality or failure, can be put into a familiar framework and therefore seem less scary.

I’ve mentioned Dr. Earl Schuman in previous posts. He is the family friend who has coached me through major life medical decisions, physical and emotional changes, throughout my 2012 colorectal cancer episode. He has regularly kept up with my writings and offered encouragement and advice, even with a busy work and home life.

Since I have earned good health marks and moved on to a more routine existence, I mistakenly assume that I must be far from Dr. Earl Schuman’s mind. Our original connection is through my dad’s cousin Bonnie’s college roommate and lifelong friend, Tammy, who married Earl (what, do you want a diagram?). Aunt Bonnie lives in California, and when I was diagnosed, word traveled to Bonnie who referred us to Tammy, a retired nurse, and Earl, a general surgeon in Portland, to advise me on how I should proceed. He did not have to help. But I came with no expectations and no clue! That’s where Earl shined!

I don’t know where to begin to thank Earl. Over the course of my treatments, Matt and I called in panic once or twice, plus a few times to run our research past him to see if we were on track making decisions about my treatment. I would email him updates. And then at times he would just check in. It was truly like having a guardian angel sitting by somewhere in the ethosphere.

Since achieving wellness, and even before, I have followed Tammy Schuman’s blog, Scooter Saga. She writes about life with Spinocerebellar Ataxia (SCA), from which she began suffering in her 40’s and which forced her to retire early from her nursing career because of loss of muscle control, balance, fine motor coordination. Tammy’s blog is a portal into a world where adapting to every-day surroundings with an ever-changing muscle control is the new normal. And then to do it with grace, gratitude and laughter makes it a true inspiration. Tammy makes her experience so easy to digest, everyone should read along with Scooter Saga! I’ve been able to connect with Tammy through her blog, and feel that I’ve become friends not only with Earl, but also with Tammy.

Daily, and in their own way, the two are making the world a better place, and reminding the rest of us to keep the scary stuff in perspective!

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3 Comments

  1. mary dennis

     /  September 22, 2013

    Dad and I think this is a beautiful tribute to Earl and Tammy. Good job, Michelle!

    ________________________________

    Reply
    • cancer4me

       /  September 23, 2013

      Thank you Mom & Dad! It’s been in the works for a while now! It never seems like it’s quite good enough, but I had to call it done and post it.

      Reply
  2. Anonymous

     /  September 21, 2013

    Hi Michelle,
    I so appreciate reading your blog. I may see you in Nov. when K & K have their Portland party. I was very interested in your connection with Tammy as my brother and mother suffer from some form of ataxia. My bro is now 63, and his symptoms seem to be getting worse very similar to what you are describing with Tammy. How can I get to her blog? Thanks, Michelle, and so glad you are so well!
    Pat Gotch

    Reply

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