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Valentine's Day is this Saturday, and as some of you know, it's not a holiday that means much (or anything, really) to me.  That's because I think it puts too much pressure on people to plan the perfect meal, buy the perfect gift, be the perfect partner -- one arbitrary day a year.  It feels too hyped and too commercial to me.  That's just my opinion.  Of course, I do love chocolate -- but that's the case every day. *g*

Despite all that, if there is one thing in the world that I believe in, it's love.  Love makes the seemingly unbearable bearable.  Love is a choice you make, again and again and again.  In my experience, it doesn't "just happen."  At least not in a longterm sense.  And sex, while it can be a part of love, is not love. 

Above all, love is in the details.   

I read the following NY Times article last night and just nodded in agreement with tears in my eyes.  The author wrote with such honesty and dignity.  People talk about a notion of TMI.  Sometimes anything that refers to the human body in an honest and detailed way is considered TMI.  But the body is part of who I am.  It's not the sum of who or what I am, but I'm not blind to the miracle that it is.  To me, what's real isn't too much information.  It just is, regardless of whether others want to turn away from it.

Anyway, if you're wondering what the hell I'm going on about, read the article.  If you have a little more time, scroll down to the bottom of the page afterward and read through some of the comments people left. 

Also, thanks for all your recent comments; I'll be back with replies a little later today. 

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/02/09/love-in-the-time-of-prostate-cancer/


February 9, 2009, 11:59 pm

Love in the Time of Prostate Cancer

Times editor Dana Jennings writes each week about his experiences coping with an aggressive form of prostate cancer.

Dana Jennings. (Lonnie Schlein/The New York Times)

By Dana Jennings

I vividly recall those first few hours in the hospital room after my prostate cancer surgery last July: the plastic thicket of I.V. tubes; the leg cuffs huffing and chuffing to ward off blood clots; my throbbing incision packed with gauze. But, most important, I remember peering through the post-surgical haze to see my wife, Deb, sitting there, smiling at me.

These days, I epitomize the “in sickness” part of the wedding vows that Deb and I took back in 1981. Since we learned last April that I have prostate cancer, I’ve had my prostate removed, found out that the cancer was shockingly aggressive, undergone a 33-session course of radiation and am finishing up hormone therapy.

Right now, I’m not quite what you’d call “a catch.” I wear man-pads for intermittent incontinence, I’m a bazaar of scars, and haven’t had a full erection in seven months. Most nights, I’m in bed by 10. The Lupron hormone shots, which suppress the testosterone that can fuel prostate cancer, have sent my sex drive lower than the stock market, shrunken my testicles, and given me hot flashes so fierce that I sweat outdoors when it’s 20 degrees and snowing.

Prostate Cancer Journal One Man’s Story

Dana Jennings blogs about his experience with prostate cancer.

Even so, Deb has taught me that love is in the details. Humid professions of undying love and tear-stained sonnets are all well and good, but they can’t compete with the earthy love of Deb helping me change and drain my catheter pouches each day when I first came home from the hospital.

Yes, in the details. She measured my urine, peered into places I couldn’t (literally and figuratively), and strategically and liberally applied baby powder, ice and Aquaphor to my raw and aching body. She battled our intractable insurer, networked, tracked down the right doctors — and took thorough notes all the while.

I was wounded. She protected me. She chose to do these things.

Deb and I have been married for 27 years, have two sons (22 and 19), and have ridden the usual Ferris wheel that comes with a long marriage. But our love for each other has deepened in this time of prostate cancer.

We talk more often about the life we’ve built together, about sex and money, about the joy we take in our sons, about the uncertain future. When cancer moves in, there’s nothing you and your spouse can’t talk about.

Our love has been seasoned with a bitter pinch of mortality, and the classic quarrels of marriage hold little power over us anymore. When I say to Deb, “I love you,” I mean it. And when she responds, “I love you more,” she means it, too. We understand that time, perhaps, is not on our side.

Time, we are told, will give us our sex life back. As I said, the hormone shots have shut down my sex drive. And my poor penis is still in recovery — from the surgery and the radiation. But as we wait, I’ll tell you this: Love abides.

Yes, yes and yes — lust is essential. But right now, sex seems quaint, old-fashioned. Oddly enough, it can’t compete with the depth and gravity of a light touch, a sly glance. I’m in the mood for the Beatles and “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” not Grace Jones growling, “Pull up to my bumper, baby.”

Don’t get me wrong. I really, really like sex. But given a choice between the mere biology of lust and the deep soul of love, I’ll take love. My body has changed — but my doctors say my libido will be warming up again before I know it. Deb understands, and we’ve adapted.

Deb’s love is one to live up to, one to reciprocate. Who else is going to snuggle up to me on the couch, smile, listen — and nod knowingly — as I complain about my hot flashes?

In the long shadow of prostate cancer, I’ve learned that I married the right woman.

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What a beautiful article! *also sheds a tear* This is how I felt about D when (far less dramatically) he put up with the nosedive in my sex drive after having the kids and battling with post-natal depression. Well, it wouldn't be me without a little TMI.

Thanks so much for sharing :)

This is an amazing article, hon - thx for sharing!
So many little things:
So much hits home in this and hopefully we can all take meaning from this without having to experience what this couple did (cancer) in order to realize it.
~When cancer moves in, there’s nothing you and your spouse can’t talk about. It's sad for me to think that there are things that I feel hesitant to talk to DH about... things that I should talk to him about and not let fester or wait. I really want to be better about that without having to have some other serious catalyst to prod me along...
~ Love abides. DH and I had our wedding rings inscribed with the verse: Abide in my love. *haz shivers*
~ I’m in the mood for the Beatles and “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” I was a cornball the first time DH and I held hands! We were in a movie and I told him I thought the Beatles had a good idea. And he said, "Yeah, what's that?" And I sang "I Want To Hold Your Hand" - to which he laughed and promptly grabbed my hand. Awwwws!

Married life isn't perfect bliss all the time and you learn to cherish the little moments that *do* seem perfect... even if you don't realize they were until later.

People talk about a notion of TMI. Sometimes anything that refers to the human body in an honest and detailed way is considered TMI. But the body is part of who I am. It's not the sum of who or what I am, but I'm not blind to the miracle that it is. To me, what's real isn't too much information. It just is, regardless of whether others want to turn away from it.
And it's never more evident, visually and emotionally than during pregnancy, yes?

Thx again, L. You never fail to make me think about things in a different light! :)
♥~S

I was a cornball the first time DH and I held hands! We were in a movie and I told him I thought the Beatles had a good idea. And he said, "Yeah, what's that?" And I sang "I Want To Hold Your Hand" - to which he laughed and promptly grabbed my hand. Awwwws!

OMG that is the corniest most gorgeous thing I've ever heard. And another twinmo - no I didn't sing Beatles tunes to my dh in a movie theater... but we did hold hands for the first time at the cinema.. we were watching Out of Sight LOL.

lol didn't you guys meet at the movies??
and we were watching The Sixth Sense - I see dead people. creepy little kid! lol

Oh yeah that movie creeps me out!

No we met at a theatre as in stage plays :)

Don't some people just have a handle on coping with the worst of things? And with humour.

That's a love made in heaven.

That's an amazing article. Thank you for reccing it, but also thanks for including your words and thoughts. They made pause to think and, though single, I found myself nodding along.

I'm not even bothering to control my tears. In this moment, what I hope is that I haven't missed out on my chance for a love like that.

What an amazing love story! And yes, completely put a tear in my eye. Thank you for sharing it!

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