Thursday, August 19, 2010

Maybe I should lay off the gas pedal.

in every stage of my recovery (am I even allowed to call it recovery if I am not recovered yet?) I have pushed my doctors to allow for me to get back to being normal as fast as possible. I pushed to get the tubes out of me once I woke up from my little coma. I then pushed the nurses to let me walk on my own and get on the stationary bike to regain my strength. I pushed to get that chest tube out. I pushed the whole medical team to let me come home back in February a mere three weeks after a complete systems failure. I pushed them to take the trach tube out of my neck. I pushed again and again after my transplant, trying to get out of the hospital the second time. Then I pushed some more to get my Hickman centerline out well before it was expected. Now, things are seemingly normal, and I can't stop pushing my poor doctor some more: When can I go back to work? When can I start getting my immunization shots? When can I do yardwork again? When can attend a rockshow? A Baseball game? When can I drink beers? If I can't swim, can I wade? When can I hang out with kids again? When can I fly? ride my bike? take the "L"? Take the bus?
I feel like a child who broke his leg in the middle of summer and just wants to go outside and just play, man.
I've thought this through this past week, since taking it in and having a grand birthday, seriously just happy to share a room with superb friends and laughs until we are all wiped out from the good time. I'm going to take some time and relax from all my pushing now. i'm going to enjoy a summer month of activity light enough to call quality exercise for senior citizens, but nothing more strenuous than that. I'll learn a new skill, like playing guitar, something that I can create with and have fun, without feeling like I'm just passing time. By the way, I received a guitar for my birthday from a very generous friend and I now have the tools to play in a creative manner.
i've found that it is easier now to create since my mind is active again. I think that is what hurt the most; not being able to think in the manner that I have grown quite used to. It hurts being stupid about things that used to come naturally, you know? Like when I had to relearn how to walk, I had to relearn how to use my brain but that took longer. Now, before i can run physically, i can run mentally. Capice? I really like to run mentally. the timing of this couldn't come at a better time, for baseball playoffs are approaching! I kid, because we all know the Cubs are "Completely Useless By September", especially this year. I won't deny rooting for the White Sox, but those clowns are playing an awful lot like the Cubs lately. I still watch both teams, dammit, right down to the end.
So here I am, looking at the calendar and realizing that I am only four months out of transplant. My blood counts are slowly rising, s-l-o-w-l-y r-i-s-i-n-g, so i will chill, listen to Dr. Artz' advice and listen to my body, and start getting comfortable with a daily routine, and enjoying that routine. I will mark the calendar for a return to work at six months out from transplant and enjoy every moment of the time in between, trying not to focus on what lies ahead, but instead focusing on the details of every day, every hour, every minute, and revel in every sunrise.
I really am just happy to be alive, amongst friends and healthy.
I think we all ought to feel that way, but I understand if somedays it's hard to realize what is truly important and what is really small potatoes.
Oh and please feel welcome to enjoy Chickenfest with all of us mad fools. Life is meant to be lived and let us live heartily with many variations of poultry cooking goodness. Everyone is welcome, come celebrate!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

DAY 100 !!! - August 4th

Today marks the magical day #100. Hooray! this day is only statistically important because most people, if they are to get a serious blowback from stem cell transplant, have their hardest battles inside the 100 day mark.
Now, I'm not out of the woods yet and still am operating on an infantile immune system, but I'm getting stronger all the time and feeling more and more like myself as the summer wanes. I've had issues only on back-to-back strenuous days and have learned to plan my weeks better. i've regained my skills in the kitchen and can manuever just as well as I ever did.
The body is something that has come along because I've focused on being healthy, eating well and getting proper exercise. My mind is now getting into shape and I'm having fewer and fewer occasions of 'cancer brain' and find my wits returning and my mind regaining memory and details. Still, i get moments when I forget what the hell I was doing as I walk into a new room, much like an aged person.
Of course I am getting older, but this week, getting older is something for me to celebrate. Remember way back in January when the odds of me getting older were slim? January seems like a lifetime ago to me. So many minutes I spent looking at the ceiling in the hospital just thinking and willing myself to get better, never looking at bad news at set backs, just looking forward to my next healthy milestone. Such a long time ago. So many dreams ago, so many hurdles and short-term goals ago, I remember so foggily my entrance to the emergency room, doubled over in pain and now, I feel great and look physically, at least to myself, better than I did in December. Better than I have in quite a few years. So this Friday's anniversary of another trip around the sun, another count of sunrises, all of them gifts, will feel special to me. Special like a true present, a real gift to myself.
My current issues are mainly financial, with not working and trying to keep on top of all my medicines, trying to re-arrange some bills and mainly just staying afloat. Just day-to-day life in this economy, I'm learning.
My medical update: the last bone marrow biopsy (jeez, am I the only guy who gets hungry thinking about his own bone marrow?) showed all new cells, no bad blood, and zero leukemia. I recall Dr. Odenike telling me there was a chance we had to cure cancer, and i believed her. I didn't doubt her one bit and now it seems that is case. A truly miraculous turn of events and a tremendous achievement by all of the medical staff at U of C. Workers of miracles, them peoples.
I'll rap at you folks after the weekend; I've got some more contemplating to do for a day or two, then it's down to less serious matters and rejoicing in the life I been given. Like your clocks up and we'll all raise a toast at 7:35pm CST on Friday.