Friday, March 22, 2013

A Body at Rest...

“A body at rest tends to remain at rest unless acted upon by an outside force” or so Sir Isaac Newton would have us believe. I’ve found that a hospital bed will have pretty much the same effect on a body – my body in this case – as well.  The doctors were pretty insistent that I get out of bed and take my meals in the chair adjacent to the bed. There are a lot of good reasons for that including the likelihood that I could develop pneumonia or blood clots by staying in bed for an extended amount of time. I found that getting out of bed, even for a short amount of time when I was feeling my worst, was a real chore mentally as well as physically. There were a few days it just felt too damned hard to do anything. The power of gravity and that first law of motion was something I had to will myself to overcome, even if that trip to the chair just a few feet away was the goal. It didn’t matter if I slept in that chair, I had to move.

I find that the stakes may have gotten a little bigger now that I’m home for a few days, but that feeling of lethargy is knocking at my door under the guise of recuperation. Physically, I am taking things one step at a time, but mentally, there’s the temptation to just do nothing. If you’ve picked up anything from my writing to-date, you’ll know that I have a craving to keep mentally active and engaged, so this is a real battle. To keep myself accountable, I’m doing what I can to contribute at work and even stopped by to get some writing work that I can do remotely.  The yellow surgical mask combined with my cap gave me a suspicious appearance for just a moment until the few people who were still in the office when I stopped by recognized me. It was nice to see the people that I work with and to keep the mind working.

Having had one of my daughters here this past week or so to help out was really nice as well. She knew the right distance to keep to help when I needed it and to allow me privacy when I needed it.  She was the right person for the right time. We all should be so fortunate to have such people in our lives. Thank you, Dassi! I found out yesterday that my oldest son will be able to come out and help while I’m undergoing the bone marrow transplant in Seattle. More than the help, I’m looking forward to cementing our relationship as adults. Most of my life, I’ve been traveling or living apart from family and if there’s one thing that this diagnosis has given me is some one-on-one time with everyone.

I remember doing a little exercise in goal-setting that had a question: if you knew today that you would die in six months, how would you spend your final time on this earth (assuming all final arrangements had been taken care of)? The point, of course, was to get you to think about the truly important things in your life and then do them. In a real sense, a leukemia diagnosis has forced me and those around me to refocus on some things.  Life comes to a stop and you don’t have any choice but to pay attention. It is the ultimate outside force to get you from inaction. This is yet another one of those cautionary tales of sorts to give you the opportunity for a little introspection without the benefit of a doctor reading an unpleasant pathology report to you.

Just like it’s far easier to look for a job when you have one, it’s far easier to be introspective when you have options in front of you than when you’re staring at the ceiling of a hospital room. So, take it for what it’s worth. Take some time and find what it is in your life that will get you moving in the direction you want to be going rather than remaining in the rut you’ve carefully worn for yourself.

I monitor my blood pressure daily and now I’m adding temperature and weight to the mix to make sure I’m not treading into territory that would have me rushing to the ER. I did go back up to the VA for a routine blood test this morning and thankfully, the numbers are still trending in the right direction. I’ll be back on Monday for more chemo.  It may either be an outpatient spinal variety (insert cringe here) and it may also be a shorter four-day stay for some “consolidation chemo” to keep things in check until my donor has been identified and I head to the great Northwest for the next chapter in this adventure.

Thanks again to you all for your continued support and close air support. We’re winning this war! You are the “outside force.”

Be well, stay strong, and much love to you all!