Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Happy Rebirth Day?

I had been doing well these few weeks at home. I was learning to address my condition with more spontaneity, increasingly able to appreciate the mundane and the familiar. I knew what was coming and I was determined to be prepared.

What's happening is that I've been sick for so long good news doesn't always register to me, I've become indifferent and resigned. My most recent biopsy shows that I have responded well to treatment. Well, that's apparently the guarded vernacular or a euphemism for remission. Jenel chants with cheerleader zeal how positive the results are. Reluctantly I ascede. My blood work improves with regularity every other day blood is drawn.

I've been resisting transfusion, even when my red blood cell count is low enough to require it, in the delusional belief that without the irradiated blood assistance, I'll get better on my own; Like I can promote my own blood production. While research has shown that bio-feedback is valid in some applications, unfortunately with me , I won't be having much of an impact on my own psychoneuroimmunology. With that being said, I know my disposition, neurotic as that may be, has been proven to be beneficial.

From recalcitrance comes great strength and implacable optimism. For now, I obediently hook up t0 IV antibiotics for 5 hours every day, take handfuls of pills to support my immune system, and visit a clinic every Mon., Wed., and Fri. to check my blood. Not exactly exciting but it gets me through the day without losing my mind to Fox News. For those of you who doubt my potential that was just some of my best optimism.

Subliminal commentary aside, I'm also defiantly walking every other day with Jenel. We're up to 2 1/2 miles now. My defiance isn't with Jenel (although she has quipped "that it's taken cancer for me to walk with her") it's in my effort to do it whether I feel like it or not. The recent peculiarities in the weather has been a wardrobe challenge for me . It's difficult to regulate my body temperature without hair. How many layers in conjunction with a variety of head dress I'm not familiar yet. Even in the house, I'll sometimes turn up the heat before I realize, all I need is a hat! A minor adjustment, I know, but one of many I'm learning to make every day. It's rather like a glimpse into old age,I suspect, and I only say that with the utmost reverence and perhaps a little sadness and I hope temporarily.

At the risk of being too optimistic, we're relatively comfortable planning for an April transplant. Doesn't that sound surreal? so unceremoniously contemplating the dates of what will be the most important day of my life. Well, perhaps, in time for my birthday on the 25th. A Rebirth, if you will. No details as of yet, too soon to speculate. We'll know more after an April 7th bone marrow biopsy that's been scheduled.

Maybe we'll have to start a pool, instead of March Madness, we'll have Auspicious April! The criteria could be determined by date and hematology. Maybe someone can come up with a strategy for a fund raiser. Have your people call my people. Meanwhile, The team in training program (The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society) is holding a golf tournament May 2nd in Magnolia Greens. If you haven't received a flyer with the details to register, please call me or Marylou. The efforts of this organization has helped to save my life. Again, remain as generous and charitable to others as you have been to me and please give blood.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

From an Anxious Mind

The plot thickens, as it were. I began to explore my fundamental nature at home now. I considered how much more catastrophic this could become for me. Would my soul be intact? This was a call to arms.

Home, to be at home; transcendent as the promise of spring. I'm just euphoric! At once afrenzy with delirious emotion but still strangely ambivalent. A sense of urgency ad persistent anticipation hangs ominously in the air here. A life of regimen and supervision, for all my resistance in the hospital, seems now indispensable; at home without a net. A version of X-games: Neutropenic cancer patient goes home. A little neurotic, I know, that's why they sent me home with anti-anxiety medication. Its convergence comes with a welcome respite, no matter what madness I can imagine.

Some stripes never come off, even with chemo. Anxiety is my affliction and my salvation, in fact, I'm not sure its not my best character trait. It's has provided some really good entertainment for the nurses at UNC at my expense, a little comic relief watching me struggle. Nevertheless, it has served me well and the acute self-awareness and anxious persistence I torture myself with has helped me survive. At least Ive kept my wits about me, hopefully, not at everyone's expense.

Aside from being sent home, there's not much to report. Ironically, the significance of this only really demonstrates the versatility of the doctors. My status is as excruciatingly unchanged as the length of my hair. I continue to recover from two consecutive rounds of chemotherapy. My immune system is non-existent. My bone marrow isn't producing any of the blood components essential to protect me from an infectious environment. So, operating on the assumption that you don't always get better in the hospital, I can stay at home to recover provided I can stay fever free until my imminent biopsy. After which, it will be determined what strategy will be employed in the weeks to come to prepare for transplant.Nel and I are always reticent of our infatuation with hope, we have to resist it all the time. For now, we won't speculate on the direction of my treatment.

Home brings new immediacy, both revelatory and provocative; that while alone without distractions can leave me raw and enervated, and since pacing isn't an option for now, I'm compelled to write innocuous observations amidst MSNBC on TV, and the stereo on shuffle mode, loud enough to let the neighbors know I'm home and alive. Observations about my experience at no particular time, revelry in some effort to codify the reality of one or another moment. To give context to what, at times, seems so unreal. This experience has catapulted me to a whole new level of anxiety; translating unfettered streams of conscience. Although cathartic, it's more easily considered than done, and not without the dread that accompanies self-indulgence performed in public. For the intolerant; these things(I mean your computer) comes with a delete button.

Kierkegaard was an existential and transcendental influence for me many years ago. I quoted him yesterday to a friend, a fragment of an oft remember line ..."the sweet confection of possibility"... Right now or even then I can't recall the context in what specifically. For me, this simple fragment embodies the transcendental nature of choice alternatively absolute and abstract. A reconciliation not to be gnawed on with gnashed teeth in futile discontent, but to revel in delectable anticipation, fanciful and resolute. Tom Jackson; cancer patient, not who I am, just what I've been doing lately.

I've been single minded in my effort to battle cancer in me and for any others I have the strength to advocate for. And yet does cancer define? I've only just now begun to embrace it. The inexorable specter of tragedy, its destructive path through humanity. This is a battle with a history of indifference and death. A battle I know I don't fight alone, whose carrion call I answer with optimism and perseverance; transcendent with the "sweet confection of possibility".

Thank you for thoughts and support. Remain generous and charitable to others as you have been to and Nel. And to my Nel ...forever and ever.