. It’s a love story of two people who meet at a difficult time and over time come closer together. We first met them here, or somewhere on the MPN Internet. We always see them hrough Bonnie’s eyes her vivid blogs of travel to Venice and Africa, on cruise ships to South America and South Pacific. We read reports of their dining at exotic restaurants, of passports and airline tickets and of Joe’s PV progression to MF
We follow them through emergency rooms and clinical trials, read frightening reports of complications and share glimmers of hope. Now, Joe, is back, on Bonnie’s arm, and our hopes rise for his recovery.
But Bonnie and Joe have a life apart from MPNs. They met on a dance floor and their dance goes on. Now that Bonnie is sharing their early days, we can see them not only as patient and caregiver but as they are in full, lovers still, engaged in a human, loving dance.
A Love Story
By Bonnie Evans
The beginning – from Keflavik to Atlanta
April Fool’s Day 1975 was the day I arrived in Atlanta with my two toddlers to start my life as a single Mom and look for new career to support them.
Roy, my husband, was being released from the US Navy after serving the last three years in Keflavik, Iceland as a Naval Aviator. Before we could divorce, I needed to find employment. It took me seven months to finally secure a stable position with advancement opportunities. It wasn’t long after that I met Joe,
Disco was king when Joe and I shared a slow dance at Earl’s Place in Atlanta. October 1975. He was a tall good looking guy wearing a polyester leisure suit that was the fad at that time. My first husband lined me up to go out on the town with one of his girlfriends since I knew no one in Atlanta. Joe and I had no conversation during the dance so I thought that was it.
Joe called me up the next day to go see a movie. I rolled my eyes when he drove up in a red Corvette convertible. I thought this guy had to be a player and was very much into himself. I nixed his suggestion to see a Charles Bronson movie since I was not a fan of Bronson’s violent shoot’em up films. No problem, Joe said, we could see something else. I have no recollection what that movie was but I was impressed that he was accommodating. He asked lots of questions about me and said very little about himself. His voice had a very deep Southern nasal tone to it that was very seductive. He was self assured but not cocky. My first impressions were all wrong.
A black and gold velvet couch
Later on in the evening he took me to his townhome which he had recently purchased. It was very nice. He had a huge, hideous black and gold velvet couch which was very well used by the two of us over the years. We must have spoke for hours before he made his aggressive move. Wow, I was swept off my feet. I felt attractive and sexy with this guy, something that was very much lacking in my marriage. So, it was the sex that glued us together for years which was not that unusual for young adults raised in the sixties.
Two weeks later we went to a party thrown by one of his friends at work. I was sitting on Joe’s lap when he asked me to move in with him. I said, “Hey Bill, I am not ready to jump into any relationship.” Joe says,” My name is not Bill.” “Oh sure it is,” I say. Joe says, “My name is Joe.” After dating this man for two weeks, I was calling him the wrong name. Everyone laughed at our exchange but none harder than Joe and I. This guy was good natured and still wanted to date me.
I was hired as a manager trainee at Household Finance Corporation (HFC) . Joe thought that I would be so successful that I would want nothing to do with him. I have no idea why he ever thought that. My high stress career at HFC lasted until June 1996, just before the Atlanta Olympics. Through that whole time, Joe was very supportive when times were tough where I thought I could not take much more.
A year later
Over those years, I realized Joe was a keeper. My first clue happened early in our relationship.
On June 1, 1976 my youngest son, Mike, was 2 1/2 years old when he was seriously burned by hot tar in the parking lot where we lived. Some workmen were working repaving the blacktop. I had stopped by the grocery store before picking up the boys at KinderCare. Michael had messed up all the clothes he had at the daycare so he was only in his diapers.
In the past, Mike had always followed right behind me into the townhouse that was only a few feet away from where I was parked. I grabbed the groceries in both hands and rushed into the kitchen. I had just laid the bags on the counter when Keith came running in yelling, “Mommy, Mommy! Michael has hot tar all over him!”
It was literally only seconds that had passed and Mike had followed his brother over to where the pavers were working. He had stuck his entire left arm into the hot boiling tar and tried to wipe it on his leg and the top of his head. A workman was carrying Michael over to me by lifting him up under his arms. He was screaming and in great pain. Without thinking, I got my purse, called Joe to come to watch Keith, and rushed to Windy Hill Hospital.
I put Michael in the back seat of the bright yellow VW bug and drove to the hospital as fast as I could with my flashers on. I did not call 911 since I knew it would take too long and that minutes were essential. I made it to the ER in 10 minutes. I did not stop to register. I ran through the ER doors and smashed through the doors to the exam room without stopping. When Mike went into the operating room, the doctor told me that Mike had only a 50% chance of living through the surgery.
Joe had called my estranged spouse who came to the hospital with his girlfriend. Joe took care of Keith and made sure that someone at the apartment complex was watching him. Finally, the doctor came out to tell me that Mike was out of surgery and needed to be sent to Grady Memorial Hospital the next day to the Burn Unit.
I took the elevator up to the third floor to see Mike rolling down the corridor from the operating room. His face was swollen to twice its size and his arm was bandaged as if he had a large boxing glove on. As I stood in front of the elevator looking at Mike, I started to collapse to the floor. The elevator opens and there is Joe catching me before I hit the floor. He was my support and rock throughout those stressful weeks.
Sex, food and rock and roll
When we started dating, Joe’s idea of a good restaurant was Steak N Ale. I introduced him to fine dining and he was hooked. We dated nearly every Saturday night where we would go out to dinner and try new foods and wine. We never dated on Friday nights since that was singles night. He would go his way and I would go my way.
For many years we dated other people but we would come back to each other for the hot sex and good food. I also used to cook for him regularly and he loved my cooking. I was always coming up with a sensational dish to wow him through his stomach. The eating out in various restaurants continue to this day but that is how it all started.
Joe would know instinctively when I had been with someone else. He found that enticing for some reason. I found it amazing that he was not jealous or perhaps he just did not care about me. Sometimes when Joe was on the prowl and could not find anyone else, he would phone me very late with his seductive deep voice and ask me if I wanted some company. Hungry, Bonnie could not resist and always said come on over. Wonderful rolls in the hay!
The travel bug
We started taking little trips with the kids to North Carolina’s Fontana Village, Daytona Beach and to Panama City Beach. Imagine a never married guy agreeing to vacation with two little active boys. He did and was very patient but not all that attentive.
We both joined Atlanta Skylarks Travel Group some years later. Our first trip with them was a five day trip to Mazatlan, Mexico. We enjoyed walking on the beach, trying different restaurants, touring art galleries and flea markets. One night we went to a Mexican Fiesta and I had a bit too much tequila and got a hard loud case of the hiccups. The table of four next to us started telling jokes and I was rolling laughing and hiccupping at the same time. Joe said it was time to go in a voice than told me that he had enough. He held my glasses in his suit jacket for me. Funny thing is we both forget about it until a year later when he used that jacket once again.
HFC rewarded me with several Caribbean Cruises where Joe was my companion. He fell in love with cruising and was getting spoiled. Later on we took many trips, to Rio and the Amazon, to Africa and Europe, cruises and tours. We still do.
The way it was
So this is the beginning of our love story. I think I was way more in love than Joe. I was convinced he had no serious feelings for me. Joe and I dated seventeen years before we got married in 1992. My sister, Dolores, would make me promise not to go on “Oprah” and tell people that I was dating a man for seventeen years. I was a bad example to women.
In the later part of 1985 I had signed a contract on a condo that was being built in Stone Mountain. I decided that I needed to invest in a home since it was not anytime soon that a committed relationship would happen with Joe.
Joe proposed that we buy a home together in Stone Mountain. We looked for the right home for about six months that satisfied the both of us. We wrote up a contract between the both of us involving ownership of the home, maintenance as well as everyday living expenses. Except for the home we kept our investments, debts and checking separately. Joe moved into my apartment for a few months as we waited for the mortgage process to be completed.
An abnormal blood test
It is then when we found out that Joe had nighttime Gran Mal seizures.
It was terrifying to me. We finally committed to a life together and I thought was he was dying right then and there. I called 911 and he was rushed to the hospital. By the time we got there, he was coherent. They did more tests on Joe and the ER doctor gave me a copy of his blood tests with instructions for Joe to see his neurologist.
The neurologist looked at the blood test and said that Joe needed to see a hematologist and that his abnormal blood tests had nothing to do with his seizures.
.Bonnie takes charge
I started my research on the web. Joe always seems to have a very ruddy complexion. I self diagnosed him as having something called Polycythemia Vera. What I read ,terrified me . O my God, he is going to be dead in five years. What the heck was the spent phase which sounded even scarier?
Our first hematologist did a bone marrow the next day without anesthesia. I thought Joe was incredibly brave during the procedure where I was able to stand by and watch. In a week we went back to review the results and Joe’s prognosis. The doctor said that Joe did indeed have Polycythemia Vera. I nodded at Joe since I had shown him what I thought he had through my research. I was against Joe doing the Hydroxerea (HU) since I read that after ten years it could change into Leukemia. The doctor recommended Intron-A where he would receive injections each day and come into the office every several days to get a phlebotomy until his counts got under control.
Joe started with the Intron A injections which I gave him. He stuck with it for six months and hated the way he felt. He would come home from work and crash on the couch and sleep. He felt he had the flu all the time. Taking Tylenol before the injection did not relieve that feeling. He decided that he would rather take his 10% chance of getting Leukemia in ten years by taking Hydroxyurea than to be miserable with the Intron A.
Over the next 11 years, PV was under control as Joe took HU It was just the first of Joe’s MPNs that would soon take our lives on a different course.
After Joe began to recover from his bout with Manlle Cell Lymphoma and was able to resume his MF treatment at M.D. Anderson, Bonnie posted a progress report on her Facebook page:
Bonnie Evans: Joe gained nearly 2 lbs from 165 to 167. Blood pressure low at 105/52. Waiting for blood results at Emory.
She got this response: “That is so good. But I sure don’t know if I could go through what Joe has to treat my MF. I’d say he was Superman!”
Bonnie Evans: You do what you gotta do. He is my hero!
© Bonnie Evans and MPNforum.com, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bonnie Evans and MPNforum.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.