I get the sense that what I wrote about last week left a number of you concerned about my well-being.

I knew as I was in the process that it would not be a typical column. Sure, there were the usual glib observations and snappy repartee, if repartee can be a written thing. Even so, there was an air of defeat about it that even I didn’t care for.

But, we made a deal, you and I, back when we had no idea what this column would become or how serious some of what I had to say would be. The agreement was that I needed to write about right now, and by reading on a regular basis, you gave tacit approval to the deal. I don’t always feel great. I’ve seen people who think they have to act like they’re happy and that everything is OK all the time. For me, that’s too painful to watch.

Still, we all know I’m a funny guy. Right? Funny odd, sometimes. Funny haha, almost always. But, last week, not so much.

I did come to realize over the past few weeks that sometimes just not feeling bad can feel good enough. It’s like the old joke about repeatedly hitting yourself with a hammer because it feels so good when you stop. So, do I feel wonderful? Not really, but I put the hammer away, didn’t I?

Besides, I’ve got bigger fish to fry this week. I’ve known I was going to have to face this even before I had my stem cell transplant. I mean, for more than a year I’ve known this was inevitable. A year is a long time to be able to say, “I’ll worry about that later.”


Well, the year’s up, and it’s time to pay the piper. I’m just going to say it. If I can say it, I can face it: I have to begin having my baby shots all over again.

Ouch, right? Diphtheria? Yes. Polio? Yes. Whooping cough? Maybe. Measles? Yes. All of them. I don’t even know what they all are. I just know I have to follow the same schedule a baby does — nine months, 12 months, eleventy-seven months. I don’t even have a mother to argue that they’re bad for me and I shouldn’t do it.

This is necessary because of the thoroughness of the stem-cell transplant process. The chemo I was given before my new cells went in completely destroyed my immune system. It wasn’t like I had time to move things two by two to someplace safe. This flood was thorough and complete. Yes, it wiped out the cancer that was compromising my immune system, but it took the baby out with the bathwater.

Let me take a minute for a completely pointless aside. Did you know that the unicorn, which may or may not have been left off the ark, is the national animal of Scotland? Yeah. It is. Look it up.

Anyway … Baby shots. It’s not so much the fact that I have to have yet another shot of something. I think it’s the fact that I have to have these particular shots again. I already had them once and, it would seem, they were working fine. But … over the side they went and it’s “Roll up your sleeve, Mr. Arnold, and get ready for a pinch.”

I also sense karma lurking. I can’t help but think about all the times I lied to my daughters when they had to have shots (“No, honey. This isn’t going to hurt.”) You can call it comfort, caring, misdirection … It doesn’t change the untruthfulness of it.


You know, I wonder, if, just maybe, this is where the issue of trust between parents and their kids begins to get a little wobbly. “Trust me, kids. You’ll be glad you had to learn algebra.”

“Sure, dad. Just like those shots wouldn’t hurt. Is that what you mean?”

OK. So, I’ll roll up my sleeve and be a brave little scout, but there darned well better be a lollipop waiting at the end of all this. I mean it. I’m taking names.

Jim Arnold is a former copy editor for the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel. To read more about his journey through cancer, visit his blog, findingthepony.blogspot.com.

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