Monday, June 6, 2011

The Feminist Widow in Car World - and The Susan B. Komen 5K Walk

Well, I'm not sure what this post has to do with dialysis, but I'm very sure what it has to do with widowhood. Even in an egalitarian relationship like Steve and I had, there were certain things he just did better than I did - and therefore, fell to him. Like car buying/leasing.

Steve loved cars. Cars with every new doo-dad, every new technology. I had never known that cars could even come with heated seats until I met Steve with his grey VW Toureg. He had the heated seats, the leather interior, the teak trim, and all the rest. It was nice, but it was, well - a car.

For me, a car has to be dependable - and handle reasonably well in the snow. A CD player would be great. But that's about it.

Steve chose my last car, a Suburu Forrester - sort of a small SUV that gave me the illusion of being able to venture into mountains and take a kayak somewhere. Maybe that was his illusion. In truth, I basically went to Costco and that was about it.

Another truth about widowhood is that I need to take a careful look at finances, cutting expenses where I can. A lower lease payment seemed reasonable to me.

Looking at several cars, I could "feel" Steve saying "don't even think about that little toy car, Linda Jo," and I passed up a compact sedan in a tomato bisque color. That would have completely offended Steve's design sensibilities!

But settling into a VW Jetta with a lower payment and enough bells and whistles for anyone's purposes, I felt at peace. At peace, mind you!

Feminist Dr. Linda still seeking Steve's approval about a car purchase? Well, yeah.

But I hear this from other widows, too. Wanting to ask him something; wanting to tell him something. Wanting to poke him in the arm for not being there when I had a car question.

Widowhood? Not my favorite chapter.

But then, there was the earlier part of my day. Yesterday morning, I joined a few thousand others in the Susan B. Komen 5K Walk (or "Walk-not-Run-for-the-love-of-God!") For the Cure.

That's a reality check for you. Our group of sixteen included daughter Brita and her pal Carla. We were walking in support of one of my officemates, Margaret Provenzano, diagnosed with breast cancer a year ago - and doing beautifully. Her pink "surviver shirt" spoke volumes.

Margaret and a group of fans ("Team Provenzano") pose after the Susan B. Komen event on June 5, 2011.

We spotted a man carrying his pre-schooler on his shoulders. His T-shirt read "In memory of my mother; in memory of my wife; with hope for my daughter."

For all the free bagels and pink flipflops, this is serious stuff.

Yet, I remember when I started my practice some twenty-plus years ago, breast cancer was practically a death sentence. Period. Not anymore, though.

I hope the future of kidney disease gets brighter. For now, prevention is the only real answer. As Steve would say, "By the time you're on dialysis, that ship has sailed."

But that's not completely true, either. There's transplant. There's better dialysis. There's home dialysis in its various forms.

Yesterday was a good reminder of the various burdens we bear: widowhood, breast cancer, kidney failure - and the very real hope that's tangled up in all of them.

Take care,
Linda Gromko, MD

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