Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Well, that was pleasant...or not.

My room with a view was hardly the backdrop of a picturesque Italian countryside drama.  It felt more like a horror movie with a Roman numeral behind it – Chemo II: The Reckoning!  Watch as the 6” needle gets buried into the victim’s pelvic bone to suck the very marrow out (cue the screams!). Cringe as the PICC (parasitic insertion of core creatures) line is put precariously close to the heart (gasp!) to turn our hero into a host to alien toxic life forms. “You’ll feel a little pinch and then some pressure.”

The Leukemia Diet ® Day 1. This is *not*
the way  I planned on losing that last 10 pounds!  I took this photo last night. Weight: 185. Not the recommended way to lose weight!

All kidding aside, it was a rather painful morning. Because the initial bone marrow biopsy wasn’t looking at anything serious, the amount of marrow drawn out wasn’t enough.  That news didn’t sit well with me last night when I was told that I’d have the great good pleasure of having another hole in my hip bone to pull more marrow out for samples and that I’ll have to have it done again in 2 weeks to ensure the leukemia has been sufficiently vanquished and again should I need a marrow transplant (which is likely) and again in a year. I can push my way through pain, but on the other hand, it’s not something I revel it.  I know some people really enjoy it, but I assure you, I don’t happen to be one of those said people! The other rather uncomfortable but again not unbearable procedure was the insertion of a PICC line into my arm.  A PICC (peripherally inserted central catheter) line goes in just below the bicep and works its way along the vein to a place just above the heart.  It can stay put there for days or even years where a typical IV has a relatively short period where it is effective and before there are other effects where it needs to be relocated to another site.  The other good thing about a PICC line is that blood tests can be drawn directly from it instead of having to be stuck with another needle every time it’s needed. There’s a guy that comes in here from time to time who has had a PICC line in for over four years. I’d rather not have this thing with me after leaving the hospital, but…I don’t want to have it put back in either, so we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

The painless part of the morning was talking with the transplant psychological team. They asked me about all kinds of things to make sure I was emotionally coping with what’s going on here.  I was pretty up front in saying that it really hadn’t hit me fully. I’m sure it will and I’ll be able to just let down in the privacy of my ultra-posh hospital room! We talked about the transplant process and later in the day a social worker talked a little more about the actual process. There’s a lot that is coming together from the periphery that will come together soon enough.  So much has happened in such a short time.  Just a few days ago, I was living a normal life, pursuing the dream (and finding it, really!), and then my world turned upside down and the thing that I always saw as happening to someone else was happening to me.  Yeah, *it* (and you can fill in the blank of what *it* is) can happen to anyone, truly.

There’s nothing like an event of this magnitude to change your perspective on the world and to prove again that there is so much to be grateful for. That’s honestly not a bunch of fluff and I really do get the fact that at any time now, the nastiness that is chemotherapy will start to make me feel like about a million dollar debt with the mafia coming in to collect the vig a month early! Truthfully, though, as I take my IV pole out on a walk to do its biz (since I don’t have the dog with me...and seriously, where are the fire hydrants in these hospitals?!), I see others who are in pretty rough shape, far rougher than I. I know full well, too, that on the other side of this, there’ll be some things I will have that I didn’t have before that will put me in the unique position of ‘paying it forward’ to someone else who needs it at just the right time.

Multi-tasking at its finest! Editing a document
while taking a call and getting chemo all at once

As each day goes by, I find myself surrounded by the kindness and best wishes from people from my past as well as my new reality, and some that are part of both. I was pleasantly surprised to have a cookie bouquet delivered at lunch from my new workplace. They have been so supportive and this just capped things off. Having my mom here when the toxic orange fluid entered my body to begin the war on this thing helped me to see that no matter how old you get, you’re still a mama bear’s cub. And closing out the day, it was so cool to see a high school classmate with her partner and son appear with a really nice gift and possibly a date this weekend to play cards or a board game. This place turns into a ghost town on the weekend and being here alone ain't a good thing.

It’s the little things that mean so much. Thank you to everyone who has reached out in kindness and in even the smallest gesture to support me.  Y’all are awesome!