Feeling Blue , not Red and Green- “Happy” Holidays

Dear Blog readers,

I can’t believe the holidays have crept up upon us so quickly. But alas (and thankfully) in a flash, they will be over and we will look forward to what 2012 has in store for us. I hope this finds many of you finalizing the holiday frenzy and soon finding some quiet time with family and friends. Thank you all for your incredible support for our lives and the film this year. We have been so blessed to meet so many wonderful people, to travel far and wide, and to have the health to do so. That has been the public life image, while I home in my private life, I am just trying to survive- I’m half way done with chemo and each treatment every 2 weeks seems to get harder with more fatigue, more weird side effects and an overall blah feeling. I can’t wait till chemo is over, and applaud anyone who has been through it before. You are hearty people. This shit sucks and yet I have it easy compared to other cancer patients.

OK I’m going to be real. Truthfully, I can’t say I am that excited about this time of year. Maybe it’s the chemo and feeling crappy, but I’ve found myself in a “bah humbug” mood more often than I would like to admit. This was a year of great opportunities with the film and wonderful trips, yet a lot of health challenges and way too much loss.

Our greatest personal loss of the year occurred last weekend when we had to say goodbye to our precious Bassett-beagle, Rupie, due to progressively deteriorating snout cancer. Though she was Isa’s dog officially, she was my God-dog, and we cherished almost 10 years with the most unique, loving, humorous, communicative, empathic, engaging and once-in-a-lifetime dog ever. Rupie made coming home FUN, she made us laugh and love in ways that we have never before, and she was the child we would never have. Isa, Andrew and I grieve deeply and kindly request of our friends not to say those painful words as a well intended yet not cool consolation:” Oh you can get another dog.” We just can’t hear that right now.
I do thank many of you who have extended your support and kind words during this time.
Since there were so many losses in our CF and transplant community this year, I realize that many families are experiencing difficult emotions without their loved ones this holiday. So as I complain about losing our dog, I feel a bit awkward and embarrassed. Perhaps only those who have experienced pet loss can understand? After all, Rupie was not just a dog; she was a human being in a dog’s body and she was Isa’s 24-7 companion. I only pray that all this promise of Heaven is true, and that she is up there frolicking about chasing squirrels and playing with Lara, Jessica, Anna D., Katrina , and so many more; and that we will meet again.

So let me apologize in advance, but it is hard to be “merry” this holiday and feel that it is the “happiest time of the year” as the song goes. That’s bullshit. Am I the only one who cries listening to Christmas carols? Shit still happens and the holidays seem to add salt to the wound of loss of the year, in my opinion. My heart goes out to all who are feeling blue this time of year. Shopping and eating sure don’t cure the holiday blues for me.

However, last night, after a rewarding workout (don’t’ be impressed, I’m so out of shape) at Transplant Boot Camp and a wonderful dinner with friends, I was reminded what the holidays are really all about. After the craziness of holiday cards (isa and I do 90-150 personalized cards), decorating, baking, gift shopping and parties (Poor Jesus- He’s probably up there looking down on America and wondering what the hell we have done to Christmas?)…. finally we have a chance to settle down and just BE with our friends- to laugh, share, reflect and love. It is these interactions that heal me and cleanse me of my “bah humbug” thinking. Love (AKA Jesus) is the reason for the season, not Macy’s.

In my insomnic moments, I distract myself with creative thinking and want to share a few writings I adapted below. I wish you all some quiet time and enjoyment with family and friends in the next week. May you cherish the memories.

Thank you again for all your support … and for reading this blog. – ANA STENZEL

T’was the night before Christmas, when all through my home,
Not a creature was stirring, not even my cell phone.
The nebulizers were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that Santa Transplant soon would be there.
My tired body was nestled all snug in my bed,
While visions of a new life danced in my head.
And hubby in his flannel, and I in my c-pap,
Had just settled my brain for an Ambien nap.
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I hobbled from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I coughed and sputtered,
Stepped on my oxygen tubing, tore open the shutters.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should I see,
But a miniature ambulance, and new lungs for me.
With a spunky driver, so lively and urgent,
I knew right away it must be the transplant surgeon.
More rapid than 911 his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called my name!
“Now Prograf! now, Prednisone! now, Cellcept and insulin!
On, Valcyte! On, Vfend! on, Septra and Amoxacillin!
With prayers and anticipation, I’m on top of the wall!
Now heal me, save me, bless my donor and all! ”
As complications come, we’re in for a ride,
When met with an obstacle, the team’s at my side.
So up to the OR the courses we flew,
With the ambulance full of hope, and Santa Transplant too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard in my head,
The prancing and jiggling of each bottle of meds.
As I drew in my first breath, and was thrashing around,
Down the ICU hall, Santa Transplant came with a bound.
He was dressed all in scrubs, from his head to his feet,
And his delicate hands smelled of hand gel and coffee .
A bundle of meds he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.
His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
I hallucinated he was a reindeer, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mask was tied up like a bow,
And the hair on his head was as white as the snow.
For me, the vent was held tight in my teeth,
And oxygen encircled my head like a wreath.
I had a broad prednisone face and a little round belly,
That shook when I laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!
Quickly I became chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And was so happy to breathe easy, in spite of myself!
A wink of my doc’s eye and a nod of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had little to dread.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And checked all my labs, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, out of ICU he rose!
He sprang to his ambulance, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy Transplant to all, and to all a good-night!”

1. Attend all holiday parties and shake hands with all your co-workers, especially the ones with small children. Then stick your hand in the Chex Mix and Chip and Dip, and lick your fingers
2. Go to the mall. Touch everything and head to the food court and eat with your hands
3. Go to Chuck E Cheese, Gymboree or Toys R Us for optimal exposure to germ infestation. Take deep breaths, touch everything and then go pick your nose.
4. Push the elevator buttons, the ATM buttons, the debit card machine at the checker and use the common pen, and then pick your teeth with your fingers
5. Fly in an airplane and sit next to Typhoid Mary. Rub your hands all over the table, arm rest and then eat those free pretzels with your grimy fingers.
6. Get no sleep as you run around at the mall in a holiday shopping frenzy.
7. Go to the gym, work out on all the equipment and then go home and make dinner.
8. Open all doors with your bare hands and then bite your nails.
9. Grab the grocery cart with your palms and then eat the free food samples
10. Go to a public restroom and don’t wash your hands after you shit.
11. Kiss your spouse, share drinks with your friend; after all they are “just getting over” their H1N1.
12. If you want to spread the joy, go to work and sneeze all over the on the communal fax, coffee machine, phone, and doorknobs. Spread your virus particles by shaking your client’s hands. After all, we have to be professional, right?


Written by

1 Comments to “Feeling Blue , not Red and Green- “Happy” Holidays”

  1. Joel Davidson says:

    Where are living that you saw snow?!!! Must be the meds. Looking into trying to do community screenings for the film. Hope I can get something going.
    I’ve finally been unblessed by my fairly blessed life with a diagnosis of Prostate Cancer. Start treatment in a week or so.
    I, also, saw a documentary on a Native American horseback ride of 330 miles to honor 38 Lakota Indian leaders that were executed by order of Abraham Lincoln. Movie is called “Dakota 38″. I met the movie maker and the Native American who had the inspiration for the documentary. As usual I volunteered my contacts to be of assistance if the above wanted any advice on distribution of the film. That would be you, two and my Paramount nephew. So if I have stepped on your toes and you’d rather be left alone, I’ll make it happen.
    Hope to see you soon no matter what.

Leave a Reply