Saturday, February 16, 2008

Fix Me (Part III of IV)

Read these first:
Fix Me (Part I of IV)
Fix Me (Part II of IV)

The other patients hung their pictures on the outside of their doors, mostly from when they were healthy. I added one decoration to my room, but it wasn’t a self-portrait—it was a Rocky poster. The movie is a classic, and the character, Rocky, is one of the easiest to root for of any I’ve seen. I admire Sylvester Stallone for playing and creating him. Stallone forwent guaranteed wealth to act the role instead of selling the script, a huge risk.

I feared that at some point during the transplant process I would need to be inspired. I had the same fear during my first cancer, and kept the Rocky soundtrack with me at all times. Just in case. I never listened, though. I hadn’t need it. It was evident by the third cycle of chemotherapy that I was supremely capable of battling cancer. I was The One. I was Superman.

That self-concept didn’t disappear when I was diagnosed with the second cancer, though it would diminish. Physically, I wasn’t extraordinary the way I was the first time. I didn’t recover faster, avoid more problems, or survive easier than others. The transplant pummeled me like it was supposed to. I was just an ordinary bone marrow transplant patient. At the time I was okay with being normal. Surviving was all I cared about.

I did use Rocky for inspiration, even though I may not have needed him. I glanced at him across from my bed throughout the day. And I finally listened to the soundtrack while receiving my anonymous umbilical cord stem cell transplant.

On Transplant Day, Biel brought my tiny bag of stem cells. I did a double take. This is really supposed to save me?
Benjamin Rubenstein holding umbilical cord transplant stem cells

Biel asked if I wanted to say anything before she began infusing. I wanted to say the Jewish prayer called the Sh’ma, but instead said, “Do your job, little fella.” My “no complaining” rule prohibited me from making a big deal out of it.

It was no joke and I knew that. When Biel unleashed the cells I fantasized that they rapidly duplicated and repopulated my bone marrow. The fantasies of my nurses undressing didn’t pan out, but I sure hoped this one did.

I was given memorabilia sports fans would slobber over. For my Transplant Day gift, the hospital gave me a football the Minnesota Vikings played with in a regular season game. I lacked an immune system so the ball was wrapped in two bags and had to be removed from my room immediately. It now sits at home on my Wall of Fame.Minnesota Vikings game ball Right next to that is the mini basketball signed by former University of Minnesota men’s basketball head coach, Dan Monson. Minnesota coach Dan Monson autographed basketball And a Harmon Killebrew-signed baseball. Killebrew is ninth on the all-time home run list. Harmon Killebrew autographed baseball On the Wall is my shrine to former Vikings Randy Moss and Daunte Culpepper (even though I’m a Redskins fan for life).Minnesota Vikings memorabilia wall A hat signed by the quarterback Culpepper, who in 2004 had the third highest passer rating in NFL history.Vikings quarterback Dante Culpepper autographed hat And a paper signed by Culpepper, Chris Hovan, Michael Bennett and Randy Moss, who in my opinion is the most talented wide receiver ever.Minnesota Vikings player autographs
Later I was also given an autographed picture of Frank Howard, the two-time American League Home Run King.Slugger Frank Howard autographed photo And a football signed by Marcus Allen, the tenth leading rusher in NFL history.Hall-of-Famer Marcus Allen autographed football And a baseball from Lou Brock’s 3000th hit. He autographed it, of course.Lou Brock's 3000th hit autographed baseball Last but not least, the Goldy Gopher bobblehead. Goldy is the delightful University of Minnesota mascot.
University of Minnesota Golden Gopher mascot bobblehead
Keep reading:
Fix Me (Part IV of IV)


Anonymous said...

No autograph on Goldy? WTF?! The whole collection is worthless without that!

Clare said...

That picture makes me want to hug you as tight as I can.

And I would, if you promise not to try to cop a feel.

...FINE. Atleast pretend like it's an accident so I feel like less of a tramp.

Anonymous said...

somehow, looking at that bag of cord blood grossed me out.

when are you going to put up a pic of your nuts? i want visual evidence. no more of that james frey crap.