f
Opinion: Column: Manual Labor
0
Votes

Opinion: Column: Manual Labor

Having recently received in the mail the three-ring binder/manual on the dos, don'ts and what-fors concerning the upcoming treatment for my stage II papillary thyroid cancer; and information as well (including a cookbook) about the low iodine diet I am instructed to start two weeks before my actual treatment begins, my takeaway is that it is going to be a long and hard six weeks from start to post-quarantine finish.

The reason for my apprehension is twofold. First and foremost is that I am an extremely picky/limited eater. There's only a handful of foods that I will eat on my best day ("best day" meaning completely normal circumstances where cancer is not involved), let alone on my worst day ("worst day" meaning in the midst of cancer treatment where what I eat is restricted). As a direct anticipated result, I fear there may be some heavy lifting – metaphorically speaking – ahead, specifically between April 27 and June 4.

The second reason which compounds the problem referred to in the previous paragraph is that we happen to be in the midst of a pandemic. Accordingly, the pandemic and the associated stay-at-home directives will minimize casual visits to the supermarket; restrictions intended to prevent the spread of the virus. Moreover, due to panic buying and the likely employee/staffing shortages at the supermarkets as the virus continues to take its toll, there may be more and more food shortages, which will further eliminate what few food choices I had in the first place, before I even start this specialized diet.

This second reason is made even problematic because I am very much in an at-risk category: over 60, underlying medical condition with a compromised immune system, which prevents me or rather empowers my wife to prevent me from doing what I have done (the shopping) primarily, for the entirety of our marriage. That process never suited my wife, but it has always suited me. Consequently, I have become dependent on my wife to perform many of the tasks I have spent a lifetime perfecting: what to buy where, and when, and how to save some money doing it. Let's just say I am, as Sy Syms and his daughter Marcy used to say, "an educated consumer." In our marriage, I have always described my role as the one taking care of the "business side," whereas my wife has always been the one taking care of the "social side." However, as we all try to navigate this pandemic, she is fulfilling both roles.

Now, as I roll the dice, so to speak, and plan/purchase for the present and the low iodine diet in the very near future, I am, to a certain degree, at her mercy. Given that the shopping process is hardly the adventure for her that it has always been for me, I have to rely, a little bit, on her benevolence and hope she keeps an open mind while in-store on the various indulgences that I require. Indulgences which, unfortunately, are very different from hers. As but one example, she loves a tuna fish sandwich, whereas all I ever need is a cheese sandwich (and let's not even discuss the chocolate issue, which is likewise not her priority as it is mine); and to quote my father: "the twain will never meet on the twack."

What many of us in this country have long taken for granted: 100 percent availability of food, medicine, health and miscellaneous household products, is presently not so true anymore. Not purchasing some of these products until they go on sale is a pattern I likely won't be able to follow. If I do, their purchase may be too little, too late. The last thing my future diet/medical treatment can tolerate is "too little, too late." And I would imagine that unless I stay on track, the "twain" will be the least of my problems.