Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Out By Friday; Hold the Mayo

My stay at Ecumen Lakeshore rehabilitation facility appears to be drawing to an accelerated close—perhaps as soon as Friday. My health insurance company (Aetna) has been in consultation with Ecumen and they've determined that I've now received a reasonable amount of benefit from my stay here and it's time on move on—which means moving in with Susan as my cancer recovery focus continues.

To be sure, I'm not out of the woods (in fact, I'll be moving right next to the woods, as Susan's house is located across the street from Chester Park and its 2.5 miles of hiking trails). I still have major cancer treatments ahead. The shift in venues simply means that my level of support no longer requires such intensive care. I have been able to make use of the regular physical and occupational therapy being offered to now be able to manage the demands of daily living (think basic grooming and hygiene) without imposing unduly on Susan once it's just the two of us at 1014 Chester Park Dr. (I'm not expecting Lucie, the seven-year-old black lab mix to be much help one way or the other.) Plus, I was able to make good use of being bivouacked at Ecumen to avoid negotiating stairs for all of my outpatient treatments at St. Luke's the past three weeks.

Barring some unforeseen curve ball arriving the next couple days, today's news means that Susan and I will be traveling the four+ hours to Rochester from her house next Wed, instead of from Ecumen Lakeshore. My body has been responding well to the various treatments aimed at enhancing my kidney functions and I expect to present as an excellent candidate for stem-cell transplant treatment when I have my consult at the Mayo Clinic a week from tomorrow. We'll see.

If accepted by Mayo, I'm still facing a long stretch of targeted treatment and recovery, the main challenge of which is harvesting my healthy stem cells, killing off everything in my bone marrow and then repopulating my bone marrow with my own stem cells. Obviously, it is essential to maintain a highly sterile environment through this procedure and I'll be imbibing some heavy duty chemicals throughout. 

I'll again be entering uncharted waters and I'm expecting to enter a period lasting several weeks where I'll simply be holding on, taking deep bites of the fruit of the unknown, letting go of the concept of control or being the master of my fate. I will simply be and see how well that goes. Scary, but I see no reasonable alternative to reentering those rapids. I will again be putting my complete faith in the hands of my optimism and in the strength of the support and love that surrounds me. Either that will be enough, or it won't.

Assuming I'm approved to proceed at Mayo and that I respond well to the treatment (two large ifs) I expect the heavy lifting to be accomplished by mid-May. Although I'll undoubtedly start by being hospitalized at or near Mayo, there will come a time (parallel to the limbo between St. Luke's and Ecumen Lakeshore that I'm in now) when I will no longer need such intensive watching and I can go home, visiting Mayo periodically for outpatient treatment and testing.

At some yet-to-be-specified point after that, there will be an assessment of where we're at and the extent to which I can resume "normal" activities. So there's still a lot of fog to cut through, yet there's a path.

From now going forward, Susan and I are lining up visits from Susan's daughter, Britta; my sister (Alison), Ceilee and Ann Shrader; Stan from Sandhill (along with long-time ex-member Julia Reed); followed by a visit from María Stawsky from Chapel Hill—all of which will go a long way toward keeping my psychic tanks topped off and my life force burning brightly. Meaningful relationships and giving myself to love will see me through.

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