The Line

On the way home from Dana Farber on Friday, I was thinking of the expression “Tow The Line.” Specifically, I was thinking of it for a title for my blog about this next step of the donor process. Why is that?

Get 'er done...

Well,  at this last check-in, supernice nurse practioner Sue decided to recheck the suitability of my arm veins for donation. As you might recall, originally my veins were deemed too weak for the peripheral blood stem cell donation ( physically, a process like donating blood where they stick the thing in your arm…) . SO they were going to put an IV-like line in my neck to take care of business.  But then in September they went back to the arm.

Well, now after a re-check, we’re back to the central line . “Three out of three nurses agree Beth’s veins suck.” (lol).  

I was sort of thrown because the neck thing adds a layer of complication (look at this guy chillaxing as he does it through the arm.).   BUT, I trust NP Sue and the others and I just want it done the right way.

So, anyhow,  “tow the line” was in my head for this follow-up. To me, I thought it meant someone doing her part in a process, pulling her weight. Nice little pun. But it turns out, that isn’t  really what it means. And, in fact, that isn’t even how it’s spelled. (lol)

I was reading this good book  on writing by a guy named Peter Roy Clark the day after I went to DF.  He advised people to know their cliches before using them. He pointed out – total coincidence- the expression is “toe the line”. 

 In normal use, as many of you may know,  it means follow the rules or expectations of a party or group (so I kind of knew the meaning.)  And the origin of the expression- according to Clark at least-  is from the old rule of a boxer having to step up to a  line in the dirt, literally put a toe to it, to give official notice he was set to fight or ready to keep fighting after he got hit.

Wow. I was stopped short.  I can’t think of a better metaphor for what this guy  has been doing over and over again–  stepping up to the line, even after he gets hit , and saying he is ready to fight. 

I was looking at videos about people getting marrow/stem cell donations the other day. They are so sick when they get to that point. That’s where this guy is at. So sick at one point they didnt even think they could save him.  My new caseworker, super nice Peg,   told me she had never heard of a patient getting cancelled off the list like this guy did and then coming back.

But this freaking guy. He just keeps coming back. It makes me shake my head  in amazement. I can’t get over his tenacity and strength. Who IS this guy?!! (One theory.)  

I happened to look at an old journal and I saw that I got my first phone call about this transplant last JANUARY. This guy has been going through this for a year.

But here he is,  toeing that line, ready to fight.  What an amazing gift to be able to be in his corner.

My first shot of stuff to make my stems cells grow super fast is Jan. 13th.  I’ll keep you updated. Thanks so much for reading and for being in this guy’s corner, too, and mine.   Oh, and don’t forget to get on the marrow registry ( .  🙂

“If you even dream of defeating me, you better wake up and apologize.”  – Muhammed  Ali


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