At my last appointment with my oncologist we went through the usual routine: he checked my blood, asked me questions about how I felt, how much I'd recovered from C-Diff and typed all my responses into the computer. He told me because I still had stomach pain he couldn't give me chemo. I mentioned, off-handedly (ha ha!) that I was now getting frozen shoulder on my left side, and he said that I can't let that happen. (Okay shoulder, cut it out.)
At one point, out of the blue, he said sympathetically, "You are a bit of a hard luck Hannah."
My ears perked up at that. "Hard Luck Hannah?" I knew what he meant, but where did that phrase come from? What year was it from? Where had I heard it before? Who was Hannah?
I pictured a 1920s flapper woman with marcelled hair, silently kicking and screaming as a mustachioed bad guy ties her with a thick rope and puts her, helpless, on a black and white railroad track. Or, maybe Hannah was a cartoon character with spiky black hair; a plucky young girl on her own with no family - one who finds it easy to make friends with millionaires. Or, could Hannah be in a song, and who would have sung it? Kurt Cobain? Tony Bennett? Glen Campbell? Maybe Hard Luck Hannah was a swing song by Benny Goodman and recreated by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy?
I completely lost track of the appointment and the doctor, lost in my Hannah reverie. It was all I could do not to pull my iPhone out right there and search for 'Hard Luck Hannah Derivation.'
It's probably not good when your oncologist calls you a Hard Luck Hannah, right?
It definitely has different connotations with each specialty. If your Internist calls you a Hard Luck Hannah, he could be referring to anything from your penchant for tripping on the stairwell to your tendency to get colds. When it's your psychiatrist, he might say something like that in sly disbelief, like you are pretending that all these bugs are crawling on your skin. But, when it's your oncologist? I shudder to think what it could mean for the future if Hannah doesn't get off my back.
Frankly, I really hadn't considered myself a hard luck case before. In fact, I thought I'd had it kind of easy and been kind of lucky. Yes, you heard that right, I've considered myself lucky - if you keep that in context.
Sure, as a Stage II I had to have a mastectomy and do six rounds of chemo and a year of herceptin, but I hadn't found the chemo to be that difficult. Yeah, my cancer had metastasized, but only to one organ, and I was lucky enough to be able to get a rare and groundbreaking surgery to try and fix it and maybe get some extra years. True, I got one of the worst cases of C-Diff the infectious disease specialist had ever seen, but hadn't I lived through it and AND kept my colon?
What hard luck?
I suppose some folks think getting cancer in the first place might be hard luck but I just kind of think of it as life.
I haven't been thinking of myself as Hard Luck Hannah and am not so sure about it being my new diagnosis. I can't say I've been thinking of myself as Good Luck Gertie either, but I did think other people in my same situation may not have been as lucky as me.
I guess it's all in your perspective. I think I'll continue to believe I'm on the good side of a bad situation.
Anyway, my searches came up with nothing (except that Hannah seems to be a popular name for dogs) and I still don't know the derivation of the phrase. Not being able to find all the information my ADD head requires IS bad luck. So, if anybody knows for sure where the phrase Hard Luck Hannah come from - please share!
My here and now
9 hours ago