Saturday, June 30, 2007

Rule of Five

Duluth has a way of growing on you. At first I thought the bridge was ungodly ugly, and tried to think of various ways a concerned municipality could circumvent this metal monstrosity.

But a funny thing happened as we drove and walked around Duluth - I started to like the bridge.

I liked how often it goes up and down, I liked the little building next to it and the lighthouses at the end of the canal piers.

And I began to actually appreciate the skeleton of the structure itself. So my "rule of fives" worked this time.


I've long thought that if we allow ourselves 5 of anything - 5 days in a new place, 5 dates with a new guy, 5 repeats of a new stitch pattern - that should be long enough to determine our true feelings about something.

In general, we're too quick to make judgments (I thought long and hard before writing that last sentence, don't judge it too quickly.) Something that can make us pause and live through something for a little bit of time is all for the good.

Most decisions don't need to be made as quickly as we've come like to think. We've had decades of 'split second decision making' being touted as a positive character trait, but I tend to think that most important decisions slowly evolve from a set of facts - that is, if we give them time.

That's how my most successful designs have transpired - I have a spark of an idea, I don't lock myself into ONE direction with the idea, but work it out in a few different scenarios until something just feels right.

When I do make a snap judgment, there's as good a chance as not that I will have to go back and revise it
(I do a lot of revision) When I have the luxury of working through something slowly, it actually goes much quicker in the long run. That's irony.

Right now I'm creating a design for a shawl for VK, which is due soon so I'd better get finished, and after a few false starts I devised what I think will be a good and fun-to-knit design which addresses what most folks find objectionable when working intarsia.

Of course, I may be wrong - but so far it's fun for ME to knit!

Gerry's cancer is turning out to be the same way. The initial knee jerk reaction is that it sucks, it's awful and there's NO good that can come from it.

Well the first two things are certainly true. It DOES suck, it IS awful, and my mind alternatively reels and is numb when I consider the outcome possibilities.

But after living with this for 5 months - as of July it will be 5 months since we became aware that something more serious than a 'bad back' was probably at the heart of Gerry's constant pain - I'm seeing different sides to this whole journey.

A friend sent this quote to me, I've begun using it at the end of my emails, and it speaks volumes to my current state of mind:

"When it is dark enough, you can see the stars."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

The stars we've been seeing lately are the hundreds (yes, hundreds - we're blown away) of folks who are writing with good wishes and donations.

Some folks apologize that they can only make a small donation - or no donation - but I write back to tell them that their good wishes and thoughts are the best gift we could receive.

Having said that, I can't deny that as the worry of running through our savings to cover accommodation expenses* while Gerry's at the Mayo Clinic diminishes, I find myself much more able to focus on what truly is important
in life:
  • Making sure the kids are okay
  • Finding small moments of joy that all of us can remember (or not...)
  • Concentrating on my own work so the mortgage is covered
  • Creating private time for myself and for Gerry (together and individually...)
  • Filling each day with as much grace as possible!
  • Teaching Gerry to knit (whether he likes it or not)
  • Getting Gerry Better!

So a very heartfelt Thank You to all of you who are helping us - either with good thoughts & wishes, small treasures (like ice cream - thank you Beth; and chocolate Buddhas - thank you Amy!) or financial gifts.

Please know that you're allowing us to get through this as a family - and have relieved one of the great emotional burdens that we are carrying right now.

We are humbled and heartened by your magnificent response.

*Mayo does Bone Marrow Transplants as an out patient procedure, but Gerry MUST stay in a hotel in the immediate area. Roughly 50% of the recipients end up as in-patients for a brief time, but most of the time we'll be going to the clinic every day for chemo or a doctor visit.

That's why we'll have to pay for 6-8 weeks of hotel coverage. Folks have asked about this, and I was confused about it at first, too!

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B. said...

I'm looking forward to seeing what you created for your VK intarsia shawl. You make it sound intriguing.

As always, best wishes to all.

June 30, 2007 12:50 PM  
B. said...

Might you find something furnished to rent for a couple of months that would cost less than weeks of hotel accomodation? Maybe a sublet from someone going away?

June 30, 2007 1:03 PM  
PlazaJen said...

I like your Emerson quote. The Dickinson quote that gave me comfort during my darkest months last year was this:

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops — at all –

June 30, 2007 1:14 PM  
Mary said...

Annie, if there is a Marriott near the Mayo clinic, I've got some Marriott points you can use. Won't get you more than a few nights, but can't hurt. Let me know if that interests you. If fact, I may post something on the "We Love Annie" blog to see if other folks have points they'd like to share.

God Bless.

June 30, 2007 1:40 PM  
Stepho said...

OUTPATIENT? My God, that's amazing! He must be in some seriously special hands!

June 30, 2007 2:40 PM  
mwknitter said...

Now that you mention it, I seem to remember hearing years ago, that the Mayo Clinic does EVERYTHING on an outpatient basis. You could check to see if there are any corporate apartments around there. It would still be expensive but a bit less than a hotel/motel. My daughter & her family stayed in one for a couple of months when her husband first started his job in the suburban Chicago area (his company paid for it).

June 30, 2007 2:51 PM  
Knittah said...

You have probably already come across this, but it is a great blog about living with cancer:

Sievers captures the emotions and roller-coaster ride brilliantly.

I'll be sending something by snail mail too.

June 30, 2007 3:32 PM  
Ann (yet another) said...

Hmmm, blogger wants to eat my comment! Must be hungry for those chocolate buddhas! Anyway, my first thought is whether Mayo has an extended hotel nearby, possibly one with a deal on for Mayo patients. I know Hopkins has a deal with a nearby hotel (turns out a 4 star hotel is cheaper than inpatient at Hopkins!) It seems to me that there are several hotels right at the clinic that have walkways and deals with the hospital.

June 30, 2007 3:35 PM  
Minnesota Mazzio's said...

Hey Annie

I am so glad you liked Duluth, we loved having you. I am glad I got take your class, but I am even happier than I got to meet your lovely husband and very nice and well behaved children at the game.

Duluth is a great town and I am still learning to love it. I am keeping you in my prayers.

Casey Mazzio

June 30, 2007 3:47 PM  
Anonymous said...

Google Gift of Life Transplant House Rochester. You will get their website. Since Gerry is involved in a "transplant" of cells, he should qualify. He also will need a caregiver at all times; this will be you. It's affordable, comfortable and nearby. Good luck.

June 30, 2007 4:39 PM  
Kim in Oregon said...

Your head is getting to the place it needs to be. Good for you.

June 30, 2007 4:43 PM  
Linda said...

I am basically a Rochester resident,
living about 15 miles from the clinic. Although our rooms are all
being lived in right now here at home, I do have a friend who manages motels here and I know he has good clinic rates and provides shuttles.
His units are very reasonable and still newly refurbished. The Gift of Life Transplant House would be the best idea, but if that doesn't work out for the whole time, please write to me and I'll tell you more.

June 30, 2007 6:06 PM  
Kerry Crochets said...

My thoughts are with you. It amazed me last summer when I was going through treatment that I had to stay in a hotel, and I had to pay all of it out of pocket. You would think that insurance companies, hotels or the medical facilities themselves would figure something out. I think that that was 1/4 of my costs!

Here's to all of us survivors (And Gerry is!)!

June 30, 2007 10:04 PM  
Anonymous said...

Annie - Your Duluth trip sounds like a wonderful respite; we visited several years ago when our younger child was participating in a troubled teen program up that way. It offered much hope- I KNOW IT WILL FOR Y0U. Gerry, you, and your family are in my prayers. Keep us posted on your progress.

June 30, 2007 10:10 PM  
Anonymous said...


My Dad had a stem cell infusion at Mayo 3 years ago. They had to stay there 6+ months for the whole treatment and didn't qualify for the transplant house for over half of it b/c of it not being part of the transplant so they rented a furnished apartment near the hospital. The name is Riverview or First Ave (they stayed at CIvic Square which is no longer part of the organization) the URL is:

the manager is Lori and if you are interested, I will give you my parent's names as a reference point. We did the math and found it was much less expensive (and more sanity inducing) to have them rent the furnished apartment. They were able to cook many of their own meals, they had a 1 bedroom and requested a recliner for Dad, so that Dad frequently slept in the recliner in the living room while Mom slept in the bedroom. They had a washer and drier etc. With your kids, it may make it easier to have them visit also with an apartment. I wish you the very very best. My dad of course had a different type of cancer and we are very blessed to have him with us 3 years later.

Please feel free to contact if you have questions or need more info. best of luck and you have been added to my prayers.

July 01, 2007 12:01 AM  
Yarn Thing said...


I have been planning for the last couple of weeks to say something on my podcast about Gerri and Yourself and now the website. Before I put out the podcast...I wanted to make sure it is okay with you?

I will tell you that I do get teary and choked up a bit in it but it is all to honor the wife, mother and knitter you are and to encourage others to help in anyway they see best.

You have my email to let me know that would be great.

Talk to you soon,

July 01, 2007 1:02 AM  
Bullwinkle said...

Annie, that Mayo Clinic is a special place. I'll be thinking of you, and your family.

July 01, 2007 3:51 AM  
Penny said...

There is a "Hope Lodge" very close to the Mayo clinic. It is sort of like the "Ronald McDonald House" for children-only for cancer patients. My father stayed there during his 6 weeks of radiation about 2 years ago and it was wonderful. There is no charge to stay. We had to be on a waiting list for a few days, but it did not take long for a room. Please contact them.

July 01, 2007 1:00 PM  
Nicole said...

There is something about that lift bridge, isn't there? I like watching the big ships... I haven't been to Duluth in years, but can't wait to take my boys up there.

The Mayo is a fantastic place. I was a patient at the Scottsdale AZ location and had the best treatment I have ever had (and it has been a lot.) I agree... a month to month lease on a furnished apt seems like a more affordable choice.

Sending good thoughts and prayers your way from Indy.

July 01, 2007 3:21 PM  
angela said...

thankyou for that little bit about the "rule of 5s"...beautiful and simple advice that i needed to hear. as a long-time blog-reader and fan, i continue to keep you and your family in my thoughts.

July 01, 2007 3:24 PM  
Kathryn said...

Annie, is that extremely cool disc that says "electric" on it a manhole cover?
Re: Rochester, another good thing is that the free Mayo shuttles go to all areas of the city to pick patients up from the motels. And there's a yarn shop directly across the street from the front door of St. Mary's Hospital. Best wishes to all of you.

July 01, 2007 6:27 PM  
Fiamma said...

I have you all in my thoughts and prayers. The apt idea sounds best for your own sanity and I like that Mayo offers free shuttles. Thank goodness for small gifts right?
I also hope Gerry takes up knitting and ends up being this amazing wedding shawl type knitter. Of course I will seethe with envy.... :)
Hugs and prayers

July 01, 2007 9:04 PM  
Heather said...

Are you going to be staying at a major hotel chain? And if so, is it possible for those of us who have "frequent guest" points to donate them to you somehow? Just something to ponder.

July 01, 2007 10:50 PM  
Nancy said...

Wow...every suggestion I'd have made is there already...

God Bless the ones who did the googling and double Bless the ones who have experience on their side and are using it to help you.

And most of all, God Bless you all.

July 01, 2007 11:20 PM  
Gayle said...

My husband and I spent part of our honeymoon in Duluth, in the spring and we loved it. Since then, for the last 20 years almost, whenver I've felt like running away from whatever was hard in my life at the time: grad school, work, illness, pregnancy, too many hours with cranky young children... it's been our private joke that he could meet me in Duluth because I was heading north. It is a beautiful city and I'd love to visit again.

You're doing a wonderful job being a family. Keep that in focus!

July 01, 2007 11:57 PM  
Pat said...

My husband has MM, and had a stem cell transplant in 2000. We were at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center (now part of Seattle Cancer Care) for 8 months. We rented a furnished apartment which was great as he had ALL of his treatment outpatient. We'd have gone nuts in a hotel. We were able to have our own stuff, cook our own meals, etc. In short, we lived as normal a life as we could given the circumstances. FH haw an agreement with a number of apt complexes which allows patients to rent on a month-to-month basis rather than signing a lease.

Palmer, Alaska

July 02, 2007 12:17 PM  
Anonymous said...

Just a thought. I know someone that had a bone marrow transplant and rented an apartment in the area. It may be cheaper that way than the hotel route.

You are in my prayers.

Peggy in OH

July 05, 2007 7:28 PM  
Keri said...

A few bits of information for you... I know someone has already mentioned Hope Lodge near Mayo. Seriously. Please look into this. It is why I have been volunteering for the American Cancer Society for these five years - to raise funds for things exactly like this... Okay. The info.

A link: Hope Lodge Rochester

A phone number: 1-800-ACS-2345

Another link: About your patient Navigator

And finally: The ACS website

Questions about anything, please email me. Smooches...

July 05, 2007 8:35 PM  

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