John sat in his cramped office, staring at the wall of windows, watching the rain carve it’s designs on the tinted glass. He didn’t like the rain. There was something sad about it. The ‘sweat of the devil’ he called it. There was nothing positive about a rainy day he mused. Everything seemed to slow down on days like this. As such, he was much more prone to letting his mind wander, moving in numerous directions without conscious intervention. However, most destinations were gray, focused on the negative. He couldn’t help it.
It hadn’t always been this way. There was a time when he could be objective, regardless of the weather. He still didn’t like it, but he really didn’t pay it much attention. Rain happened. End of story. The change crept in slowly, a metamorphoses that became rooted over time. And although he gave no thought to it’s genesis, in reality it began about the time of the diagnosis.
John loved to run. “It clears the head and strengthens the body” he would say. As such, most days upon arriving home from work, he would quickly change into some shorts and his running shoes and go for a jog. When he first started, he wasn’t too enthusiastic, but he found running with friends increased his enthusiasm and of course, his competitive spirit. As time went on, he started setting goals and pushing himself to meet and exceed them. Slowly, he worked up to the point where he entered and ran a half marathon. At that point, there was no looking back. The exhilaration and sense of accomplishment he experienced were euphoric.
He remembers when he first started to experience a shortness of breath on a route that he normally completed with ease. Checking his cardio monitor, he was surprised to see that his heart rate was elevated. However, not having run for a few days, he chalked it up to inactivity and gave it not another thought. It wasn’t until a couple of weeks later, after having completed a run that he found himself again short of breath, accompanied by an unusual feeling of fatigue. Unusual, he thought, but nothing to worry about. He would just have to be more cognizant of how hard he was pushing himself.
It was about two months later that John became worried enough about his symptoms to finally meet with his doctor. By then, he was losing a little weight and was experiencing much more difficulty with his breathing while running. Whatever it was, it was not going away, so he decided on the checkup. On his first visit, his doctor determined that his red blood cell count was very low and, after further consultation, recommended a bone marrow biopsy. From this, it was determined that John was experiencing what is called Aplastic anemia. In effect, his bone marrow was not able to generate mature blood cells. His doctor prescribed some drugs for John to take to stimulate his immune system. John hoped they were the ‘magic pill’ which would put this all behind him. He was young and he thought, in pretty good shape. He could beat this thing.
It turned out that the medication had little effect on the symptoms. The day came when his doctor advised him that he would require a bone marrow transplant. The problem was, there was a waiting list. He would have his name added to the national register of people waiting for a donor. How long it would take he couldn’t say. It was purely a wait and see situation.
That was two years ago. Since then, John had all but given up running. It had become an unpleasant experience and he no longer gleaned much, if any, satisfaction from it. In fact he felt uncomfortable with himself and, as his body changed, so did his attitude. He saw himself withdrawing from normal activities, choosing instead more solitary, less physical endeavors. His doctor said what he was experiencing was normal, but that offered little solitude to John. He was becoming more and more depressed.
That is where he found himself today. Staring out the window, trying to rationalize what had become of his life. Why had this happened to him. Just marking time, waiting for another shoe to drop.
The ringing of his phone jolted him back to consciousness. Reaching over he punched a button, putting his phone on speaker. “This is John” he said.
“John. This is Dr. Knowlton. Glad I caught you in. I think I have a bit of good news. I just hung up with Dr. Steinberg at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. They have a donor match. The donor has already completed testing for compatibility and has reaffirmed their willingness to proceed with the transplant. Are you ready for this also John?
John could not believe what he was hearing. “Yes, yes, or course I’m ready. You bet your ass I’m ready. What do I need to do? Do I need to come see you. When will this happen. What’s next. Oh my God, I can’t believe this. My mind is racing. I can’t even think straight.”
“Just relax. Everything in good time. I am going to make some arrangements and will be getting back to you. In the meantime, I suggest that you get home and get packed. This will all start to happen pretty quickly from here out. Are you OK John?”
“OK? Are you kidding” Doctor, I am ecstatic. I am going to leave now and head for home. I’ll be waiting for your call.”
John’s head was swimming with questions and concerns and all the trivial things that clutter your mind when you are trying to think straight. He left a voice mail for his boss advising what was happening. Stuffing everything in his brief case, he quickly walked to his office door. Turning to shut off the light, he looked once more at the rain that continued to press it’s face against the glass. Maybe, just maybe, he mused, that today what he saw wasn’t the sweat of the devil after all. Maybe today he was looking instead at the tears of God.