Sunday, August 14, 2016

Shooting the Vee

It's been nearly two weeks since I last posted. In the intervening fortnight I've been through the Valley of Despond, the Desert of no White Blood Cells, and have been spit out like a watermelon seed thrumming with Bone Marrow Vibrancy.

After about 10 days of enervation, bordering constantly on nausea, I was finally able to get traction on my white blood cell count last Wed—on my third day of being hospitalized to stabilize my reactions to anti-nausea medications. In my first 66 years I had not encountered an allergic reaction to medication. Since February, however, I've stumbled into four: elotuzumab (a chemo drug used to treat multiple myloma), compazine (an anti-nausea option), scopolamine (another anti-nausea), and benadryl (an antihistamine given as a prelude to stronger drugs. Who knew?

Anyway, it took about three days in the hospital to sort out that I was susceptible to the last three on the above list, and I recall sitting in my darkened room on the last night (the wee hours of Wed morning), when Scott, my night nurse, shared with me the good news: my white blood count had come in strong: after three successive days of readings inching forward (0.1, 0.2, and 0.3), I'd caught a booster rocket: 0.7. I knew then that I'd turned the corner on engraftment—the point at which it's clear that my stem cells have successfully recolonized my bone marrow and were busily replacing my depleted blood cells.

It's weird to go from several days of a mind set geared toward survival (riding out the ravages of the mega-dose of melphalan that I took July 27) to suddenly having the sun come out from behind the clouds and the nursing staff natter about scheduling my exit interview. Wha' happened?

After finally shooting through the rapids of my stem cell transplant, suddenly I was in shoal water, looking for the quiet bay where we'd parked the car: it was time to go home.

In this case, our stay in Rochester will be extended a couple days to accommodate the return of Dr Buadi, the hematologist who is overseeing my transplant. He will be returning from his annual pilgrimage to his native Ghana this coming Wed, and we very much would like his take on my status before heading home. We would like his read on how my numbers look and what it portends for my cancer.

It's still sinking in that I'm now on the other side of my transplant; that I've accomplished what I came to Mayo's to do and the test now is no longer my ability to cope well with chemotherapy, but to turn all that good work into cancer in remission. My work now is to return with Susan to Duluth and live a full and joyous life. Wow.

There are many, many friends and relatives who have been following my journey closely, and wishing me well along the way. For months they have been the wind at my back, gently guiding me toward this moment, and steadying my gunwhales as the current got choppy. I am humbled by all the good energy that's been directed my way. Thank you one and all.


Gigi said...

What great news, you have turned an important corner and life's doors are wide open again. Hurray!
Gotta say reading these cancer journeys (yours and others) is the closest I've come to reading sci-fi. It all seems so unworldly and I'm so relieved when folks come back, when I hear their voices again in their writing. Metaphors Away!!!!

Harvey said...

Wee-Hah! I suspected that your absence from the blogosphere was from significant side effects. Glad that time is past! Hugs from Dorie & me...