2 Weeks In

Don’t be alarmed by my silence.

I’m doing well 🙂

My apologies for keeping you in the dark, but as we know – no news is good news. I imagine if I were not doing well, I would be hollering my misery and annoyance to the moon and as far as this blog could take my moaning. But my body is progressing according to plan. Sure my hair is gone again, I have no white blood cells, and I’ve needed both a blood and platelet transfusion, but those are 100% expected and have proven to be easily managed. I vomited one day, but probably because I waited too long to order lunch and was weak from lack of food. I fainted one day, but only because it was hot and not properly ventilated in the shower (don’t worry – I sat down on the toilet first, so I only fell about 2 feet. I did manage to land right on the bridge of my nose, though, which is now sore). In general, though, I’m apparently one of the easiest patients on the floor. I keep getting assigned to the charge nurses, since they barely have to check on me at all to make sure I’m fine 😉

Mostly, I find myself calmly going through each day, accepting my limitations, and enjoying what that day has to offer. I have the glories of ABC Family movies, Frasier, and the Disney canon to keep me chuckling. I have Words with Friends and Wordament and Dots for mental stimulation. I have Lumosity and Duolingo to give me educational fun (la primavera es una estación). I have board games and books and stuffed animals and magazines and almost everything I could want, all within the confines of this little room.

I am almost never alone here, and for that, I’m extremely grateful. My companions have done a wonderful job to entertain me, to make me feel comfortable and secure, to make me feel 100% supported at all times. They go on laps with me, help me bathe, and massage me. And I have you, my companions connected through this blog and through Facebook, and all of the wonderful things you send. I have a bathroom door covered in greeting cards and notes, and knick knacks and gifts for days and days.

My energy is lower than the average bear’s, but I am grateful for this calm patience. All things considered, I am very lucky. I am the youngest person here on Oncology 9, and I still have my full mobility, with enough energy to move about my room, to walk the halls unencumbered by age or extreme pain. I have basically no pain. And I have certainty that my body is going to heal up at the end of this process just fine. But as I walk, and can glance into the other rooms, I cannot help but feel sorry and afraid for the other patients. They seem so much frailer, so much more helpless. I’ve heard family members worriedly murmuring outside of their doors, sometimes, discussing hospice care or worse. I see nurses and visitors donning the full yellow gowns in order to go inside. I see these older people staring sadly at their televisions, or looking out at me, totally lost and alone seeming in their empty and colorless rooms. It’s heart breaking. But reminds me what a gift it is that I am young and healthy enough to be up and walking every day, with the near guarantee of walking out of the hospital free and clear sometime next week.

Today is Day +7. For most young, healthy patients like me, my blood counts can expect to start ticking up in a few days. Once my counts are high enough for three consecutive days, they will deem that my stem cells have taken root firmly enough to send me home to semi-isolation. So I’m hoping for an exit on Day 14. That’s only a week away. It could be a few days more, perhaps, but it’s a goal that’s close enough to feel manageable. And until then, I will be happy to sit in my beautifully decorated room, surrounded by love, and wait. Because there is so much life to be lived once I’m out, and I will not have to look back. I can surely wait a mere week if I get all those years back that a few months ago I was convinced were gone forever.

Sorry so solemn. There is joy here in Mudville, but tonight, I feel contemplative.

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New Birthday!

Tomorrow is new birthday day, yippee skippee hip hooray! Just a mere 6 months and 1 day after my given birthday, it will be here tomorrow, and my old/new stem cells will go coursing through my veins like excited little monsters waiting to fill up my recently depleted bones. Tomorrow, everyone, is Stem Cell Re-Infusion Day.

Note – I’m not actually sure how depleted my bones are of bone marrow at the moment, because I feel quite fine. I have felt pretty darned awesome this whole week, except for one pretty bad evening on Friday, and have been doing my 20 laps around the floor every day and crunches at night (again, except on that one really bad night).

And it feels pretty badass to be taking those laps every day. To be doing those crunches on my yoga mat in the hospital, like a prison cell (albeit a beautifully decorated one). It feels like I am doing my awesome part after my pretty awesome body responded so well to ICE, and now none of it is in my hands. But it’s my re-birthday. So it’s in the hands of my wonderful team, the delightful nurses who keep apologetically waking me up at all hours to weigh me, take my labs, etc etc.

I have faith, because there’s no reason not to have faith. There is every reason to have faith, because I am sick of feeling like my life is over, or on hold, and even though there can be trepidation moving forward (I’m sure PET scans will still make my heart stop every time I wait for one in future), it feels nice to have hope that tomorrow really is a new day, a new beginning, and, most importantly, A SECOND BIRTHDAY!!!!

Presents, y’all. There will be presents.

(Only kind of kidding. I’m gonna live, and that’s a big deal).

Tomorrow! Tomorrow! I love you, tomorrow! You’re only a few midnight nurse visits away!

Hospitalization

Day -5 Today.

Aka Day 2 of Chemo.

It’s not so bad so far. Chemo yesterday went very well, and I was pretty chipper and able to get down food. Dan got me a way to watch the Nats game, too! So I was a very happy camper yesterday. I have a beautiful view above the trees, I can see the helipad, and I can see one of the new buildings going up just outside.

Today I feel a little bit tired, but really still rocking. I have lots of love flowing in, I have a lot of gorgeous decor, and I have so many visitors to bring cheer! There’s also a ton of light streaming in, since I face due east 🙂

So feeling fine, keeping myself occupied, lots of positivity flowing into the room! I have my beautiful Rhodia journal and set of 20-color Staedtler pens, so I’m taking lots of time to journal and express myself in a more permanent way than just this blog, so don’t worry if I’m being much briefer than I otherwise would be!

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No News Is Good News?

That statement surely can’t be true in all cases. I can think of very many times where silence from my friends or family has bred panic as I imagine them lying dead next to a lonely buzzing cellphone.

….I’m Not Dead!

Important to get that disclaimer out of the way. Since it would be cruel not to, considering that otherwise, my 12 weeks of silence could be greatly misconstrued.

As all of you know (I’m assuming the grapevine has reassured you since I did not), the PET scans were about as clean as you can get as a relapse-r (I figure I’ll just bold the important parts in case you’re terribly busy and just want the bottom line, which is 100% OK, because let’s face it, I’m probably going to make this a little long). And since the results were so gosh-darned good, that means that the Big Transplant (Autologous Stem Cell Transplant, or Bone Marrow Transplant) shall commence as the last and final stage of this long and laborious process towards Remission Part 2.

When does this wonderful miracle of science occur, you ask? Why, I’m glad you ask.

I go into the hospital on Monday to start.

Oh, sorry, I forgot – I go into the hospital on Monday to start.

Luckily, I’ve written the schedule of the procedure down before, which saves me some time explaining it again here. To summarize, though, I’ll be in for 3-5 weeks, with the worst of times being Weeks 1 & 2. I can have visitors, and would love entertainment in the form of videos, songs, funny stories, etc. I cannot have flowers or plants. I will be very lonely and bored, but for the first two weeks, probably very exhausted as well. Maybe I will also be exhausted later on, but mostly, I’m just anticipating the boredom.

And there’s a little bit of fear in there. The residual type of fear that I had before the PET scans came back clear and when I was convinced that there was doom and gloom at the dawn of every day. And I don’t think that any more for the most part. For the most part, I view this hospital stay as a long, tedious, boring excursion back to health. I will walk out of there. And that might even be in time for the Nationals playing in the NLCS, as Dan likes to remind me (don’t laugh. The Nats are 4.5 games out from the 2nd Wild Card spot. It could happen). So all I have to do is show up feeling positive and take it like a Wendy and get all better so I can walk out with my scars and go on to do the amazing things I want to do (like see the Nats win the World Series).

I could extemporize a bit more, but I will instead cut this short so I can get to the all-important job of collecting Netflix movies, good books, and arts & craft projects to amuse myself until October 15th or so. I leave you with the schedule of treatment!

September 16th – Hospital Admission Day! (Day -7)
(I get a PICC line and start hydrating in preparation for….)

17th-20th – CHEMO (Days -6 through -3)
(This is the big bad stuff that will knock out my insides entirely, including bone marrow, which is why we harvested it the week before! Fun? Fun. I anticipate much vomiting and napping.)

23rd – RE-INFUSION (Day 0!)
(My re-birthday! The stem cells get hooked up and shuttled back into my bloodstream to re-boot my poor little bombed out body)

24th-October 23rd? – Waiting (Days +1 through +30)
(Waiting time for my stem cells to engraft back into my bones and start producing blood cells! Should take about 2 weeks, but it could be the full month. They count up to Day +30. There will be transfusions, probably, and lots of boredom. Hopefully I have a killer view of some trees to see their colors change!)

Love you all. Sorry for radio silence. As I’ve learned trying to research other cancer blogs on the internet, the people who are healthy and happy are usually out being healthy and happy instead of spending their time blogging. So, take it as good news that I am a bad blogger? I will blog much more when I’m unable to go on fun adventures  like I have for the past 12 months.