Tuesday, March 5, 2013

It’s not “all good,” but it’ll be OK

“It’s all good, bro.” I’m not sure how we get some of these sayings, but like it or not, they’re here. Just sayin’.  I’m finding myself just a little dubious about saying that having leukemia is “all good, bro,” but I do have a sense that, in the end, regardless, it’ll be OK. I don’t want that to come across as glib, but the reality is that it really will be OK. There’s no surprise that this is just plain gonna suck, can’t get around that part, but I do believe it.

How can I be so sure? What’s to keep me taking the stairway to the morbidity train and finding I’m not going to win this?  Well, none of us wants to go down those tracks, but it’s possible, isn’t it? How do you make lemonade out of that bitter brew?  At this point, I honestly don’t have a good answer. I just know that regardless of what happens, it’ll be OK. I should be direct in saying, too, that I’m not one of these people who simply take stock in a scripture says thus-and-such about “all things working together for good.” In my case, I’ve just lived enough to know that on the other side of awful circumstances reside life lessons that make you uniquely qualified to be there for someone else.  For those that take solace in holy writ, I know that being a leukemia patient would present an opportunity to walk that out along with a number of others and I commend them for their courage to put their own particular faith to the test. I will simply say that for me, walking through a set of life-altering situations totally change the way you look at things…if you let it happen. I think it’s fair to say that for both sets of people—those who subscribe to a particular faith and those of us who do not—should expect to see things radically different on the other side of a challenge like this.

As I said right off the get-go, I don’t want to come across as casual about an acute leukemia diagnosis because it’s anything but.  Thankfully, in my case, it was caught early and I’m in pretty decent physical condition despite the obvious.  I will say, too, that I have an incredible support network that has helped me to rest where I would otherwise be frantic about the practical details, especially since I’m an eminently practical kind of guy!

Yesterday, in fact, I started to feel the physical effects of what this is all about and I ended up having a transfusion of two units of blood to keep me from sparkling like the Twilight vampires. I felt kind of…ick. I don’t know how else to put it, but just feeling less than good.  Ironically, this is the level I’d consider thinking going home from work might be a good idea…might be a good idea. Just pop a couple of aspirin and plug away like I always do. “It’s all good.”

But it’s not all good.  It’s actually pretty bad of course, but because I’m writing this from a hospital bed, you know that already. My white blood count is way down to practically nothing and my immune system is compromised to be susceptible pretty much to anything in my own body like all the bacteria in my gut and on my skin and anywhere else that it is usually taken care of by this army of white blood cells – the neutrophils.  The basic layman’s explanation is simply that the chemo has been killing them off along with the leukemia cells so that my immune system can re-boot.  Based on another test that is brewing, we’ll know whether a bone marrow transplant is in the offing.  If that happens, there’s another round of things that would happen in Seattle and it could take a little while.  This is no quick process, and while it’s not all good, it’ll be OK.

No, if I end up going to Seattle, it’s going to be rather long and drawn out and while I’ll have help, it’s not home and it’s going to be arduous and painful, but it’ll work out OK. I’m saying that now, not really knowing the full import of that. I’ve had two survivors (fellow veterans) who have returned from their time in Seattle and their stories are similar and while it’s not all good, it’ll be OK.  I’ll be OK. I keep reminding myself that, yes, I’ll be OK and that all the things that I have to live and fight for will be there waiting for me and that, yes, I’ll be OK.

Yeah, it’s scary. It’s uncomfortable. It’s tiring. It’s painful. It’s awkward. It’s all those things, but it’ll be OK even if it’s not good, bro’.