Thursday, March 24, 2016

Mushing South

We've been blessed with a mild winter in Duluth (which is assessed mainly along the lines of the Ice Index: the less ice I have to navigate between house and car, the milder the winter). Given my compromised health (multiple myeloma or MM) necessitating many visits to and from doctors  for treatment and therapy, that's been fortunate.

Wednesday Susan and I traveled by car to Rochester and an important date with specialists at the Mayo Clinic to see if I'm a suitable candidate for stem-cell transplant therapy, which is one of the most promising new protocols for treating MM. Our date was at 8 am Thursday which mean arriving on location no later than Wed evening.

Wouldn't you know: even though we're in the post-equinox, tail-end-of-the-dog days of March, the US Weather Service predicts that we'll sashay through 3-5 of wet, glumpy snow to get there. I reckon winter couldn't resist taking at least one more bite of my apple.

On the other hand, Susan drives a Subaru—the official car of the North—and 3-5 inches of crystalline sunshine should be no match for all-wheel-drive. We just left a little earlier.

While Mayo has let us know that they'll orchestrate all my appointments in Rochester, and my oncology team has made sure that all the test results and their diagnostic thinking has been duly passed along, Susan and I are driving south with just about as much surety as the Fellowship of the Ring headed for Mordor—after sifting through all the choices, what remains is the best option, regardless of its improbability. Like the Fellowship (an appellation I have a strong affinity with) I head south on the wings of trust and the loving support of many. 

Beyond what room I'll be in for my first appointment and the name of the doctor that I'll be meeting, tomorrow is another exercise in letting go. I don't know what questions I'll be asked, or even the basis for Mayo's decision about whether to accept me for stem-cell transplant therapy. I don't know how long it will take them to make a decision, or my options if I get turned down. In short, there are many unknowns and I head south thankful that I am not making this journey alone, that Susan will be participating with me as a team.

We arrived in Rochester and got settled in around 6 pm, right before the spring snow started arriving in earnest. When we woke up this morning, there were 10 inches of fresh snow on the ground. Luckily, we were able to make it to all of our appointments without leaving the block of buildings that comprise the essence of the Mayo Clinic, and thus were able to avoid any nasty weather encounters. Whew.

I felt drained from the ride down and went to bed early. What's the best way to get psychically ready for the unknown? Not sure, I had a small dinner and cashed in. I figure that laagering my energy for today was the right call. No dancing; no blackout bingo.

So here were are, on the cusp of finding out what Mayo is willing to support in my effort to place my cancer into remission. I have only the vaguest sense of probabilities, but I know what my doctors have faith in, and I have faith in my doctors. While there does not seem to be a serious risk to my mortality in attempting stem-cell transplant therapy, neither is there any guarantee of a positive bounce. We'll have to do it and find out what we get. It's part of the adventure.

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