Sunday, December 30, 2007

I do believe this warrants a new post!

In the past hour, the third most e-mailed article on the Boston Globe's website has been this one: "BU student's cancer blog," two ahead of the article covering the Patriots' win yesterday and following a top-ten list of places and a restaurant review. So, sweet! Yes, the Globe finally published the article about me and my exciting adventures in Boston as a college student-cancer survivor-allaroundawesome person. The story is wonderfully written, and I really like the photographs. The wait was most definitely worth while. Besides, it isn't particularly a time-sensitive story. The best/most exciting part about this is the people I have heard from already! The article only came out this morning, and I have received e-mails and messages and blog comments. Thank you to everyone who has read the story. You are all very kind.

I just noticed that already my story has been taken over by the Patriots' win in the most-e-mailed, i.e., my imaginary popularity contest that doesn't actually mean anything unless you're in my head, in which case it does a little bit. Such is the fickle world of the media and its public. I will grant you that the Patriots' beating the Giants and setting all kinds of new and crazy records is a big deal. Yesterday's game will remain important and notable for years to come. But its importance is on such a completely different level than my own dogged persistence in living that it almost isn't fair to compare the two. My story just happened to run the day after one of the bigger football games for New England this year. Oh well.

The point is that I am honored the Globe picked up my story. I know I've said this before, but I still don't think what I did is all that exciting. I got sick; I fought like hell; I got better. But cancer happens, and that's pretty much all we can do. Thank you to everyone, again, for reading my b-log. Writing it has helped me so much, and I hope reading it is just as beneficial. I don't think I am going to be able to drop this thing cold turkey. Every so often I find myself thinking, "Haha, that's funny, I should blog about that." So I probably will, although not as regularly as I used to. Everything is going so well here in Boston. I am so lucky and happy and excited for this upcoming semester. Hoo-rah, and Happy New Year! It's about time this past year ended. Good luck and happy tidings to all. Peace.

Friday, December 14, 2007

incredibly awesome or incredibly stupid: You decide.

I'm going to go with incredibly awesome. As in, I am. It has been a sort of nutty week for me, by which I mean emotional. I had my one-year anniversary; I had a minor breakdown; I realized I needed to get over myself and move on. I have been upset at myself for not doing as well as I had wanted this past semester. I think I have pulled solid B's, which is not bad, but it isn't as well as I have done in the past. But after talking to my mom and a few of my professors, as well as having a conversation with myself, I realized I need to stop comparing who I am to who I was. It was a wholly unrealistic expectation to think I could just come back to school and pick right back up again. I have never gotten straight A's (except once, the highlight of my high school career). How could I have expected to have done it this semester, of all semesters? So I realized I am unhappy because I am being too hard on myself. I expect so much from myself that I am disappointed when it doesn't all happen, and I fail to see everything that I have accomplished.

I have been through the metaphoric ringer this past year. For one year, I have not had any break from anything. Cancer, cancer, school, school plus cancer, none of it has been easy. I think it is safe to say that it was, in fact, hard. Yet here I am.

So I have decided to let go of the person I was one year ago. I changed my appearance, and now I am changing my attitude. I am now a redhead. I am working on my confidence in myself - who I am right now, not who I wish I was. I can't wait for this coming winter break. It will be my first real vacation in one year, which I so badly need. I am getting pumped for next semester. 3/4 of my best friends are leaving Boston, but I know they will all be doing wonderful things in places like London, Beijing, Los Angeles, and beyond. I wish them only the best of luck and good times. As sad as I am that they are leaving, it will, hopefully, finally be the catalyst to get me out and about. I'm planning to start dancing again, I'm taking a tennis course, and who knows what else I'll find to do. It will be good.

Aside: why I'm awesome/stupid - I ran yesterday. Not incredibly exciting in and of itself, but the fun fact is that I had a bone-marrow biopsy the day before. Hoorah for pushing my body to its limit! Also cause for celebration, my marrow is still clean and cancer-free. Double hoorah. I really love being healthy.

This semester is finally over. I have an exam on Saturday and one more on Monday (corrected. Thanks Dave), and then I am finished. I rocked it, and you had better believe I will continue to rock. Thank you to everyone who had faith in me, even though I have struggled to have faith in myself. Keep on keeping on; I think of you all often. Peace.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Welcome to today.

I want to run; I want to scream; I want to bike; I want to cry; I want to lose myself in the woods; I want to be with my best friends; I want to be completely alone; I want to throw up; I want to be everything and nothing. I want one year ago today to have never happened. I want today to not exist.

One year ago today I found out I had cancer. One year later and I no longer have cancer. My marrow is no longer full of leukemic cells. I am now making my own blood, and I am making lots of it. I have changed in so many ways, most of which I can not even explain. One year ago, I was sick, and now I am healthy. But I am so much more than that. I have been pushed to my limit physically, emotionally, mentally, socially. I wouldn't say I've looked death in the eye, and death looked away first, because I haven't. I have thought about death, though, and I know I have caused other people to think about death and the uncertainty of life. I think it is fair to say that I have gone through, and survived, maybe even prevailed, over more trials than I ever thought possible. Every day has been a challenge to think positively. Many days, strangely, many more now that I have finished chemo, I wake up not wanting to face the world. I haven't wanted to leave my room or my apartment, haven't wanted to see other people living their lives, oblivious to pain and certainly not noticing me.

I wish a year ago today had never happened. But it did happen, so now what? So now, I get to keep going. I get to go to school; perhaps I will even graduate. I get to live with the multitude of small scars on my chest and lower back. I get to understand others' pains because I have Been There. I get to live with the certainty that I can beat anything. Even if I forget sometimes, there is nothing that can keep me down. I know how important it is to listen to my body. If I am hungry, I eat (a lot). I sleep when I'm tired (usually). Possibly the most important thing I need to take from this is how important it is to listen to what my body is yelling at me. We are complicated machinery, and our bodies have a fantastic system of internal communication. When something is terribly not right, there will be messages. We all need to heed those messages. Not become paranoid, necessarily, but at least be aware of what we need to do for ourselves. Now, I just hope I remember what I've learned.

Also: I wouldn't have made it through these past twelve months without my family, friends, and everyone who has supported me or even thought about me or sent a prayer my way. Thank you all. I have realized just how important my friends are to me. We all need each other, every single day. I've needed a bit more, and thank you for giving it. And to every person who has told me I look good with short hair: Thank you so much for making my day all the time! I've lost a lot of confidence in my appearance, and it's nice to occasionally be reminded that I am just being silly.

I am having a party at my apartment tonight, "Holidazed." I worked this morning. I won't say I've had a great day, because there's this whole bit sort of hanging over it, but I have had a good day. I can't wait for my party, to actually be among my friends. I wish everyone I know could be here, enjoying my chicken chili and not-so-tasty gingerbread cookies (and beer...), but thank you for being with me these past months. I am not finished with this stupid disease yet, but the worst part is over, and now it's just wait and see what tomorrow brings. Peace, pax, however you say it. Enjoy life.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

'Tis the season where very little goes right.

It is nearing the end of the semester, which means final projects and final exams are imminent. I have papers, portfolios, and an overdue essay for English, all to be turned in sometime this week. Oh but wait, there's more. My computer has begun to have epileptic fits. Sometimes it turns on; sometimes it does not. Sometimes it freezes; other times, it goes to the Blue Screen. My dilemma is this, then: I replaced my hard drive exactly one year ago today. It is barely still under warranty. I could have my hard drive replaced for free right now, but then I would lose my software, especially MS Word, not to mention my camera stuff. I basically just need a brand, spanking new computer. Gah. I really do not want to deal with this right now, but I suppose I must.

The really awesome news is that I have been running, and I feel and look very healthy. I ran last night for fifteen minutes, which I broke up with walking. I was so excited though because I found a groove, and it just felt good. So while I am stressed out about school and such, all is generally well. Also, I found out I am going home for Christmas now. I wasn't planning on it. Last Christmas wasn't that great for me, and I hadn't particularly wanted to go home again. But I am hoping this year will be better, and I'll get to see my brothers. I would really, really love to go see the Bears play on December 23, but I don't think I'd be able to find tickets. I mean, holy poop, they are playing the Packers! How amazing would it be to actually be at the game? I remember watching Bears games in the hospital over Christmas and getting so excited and probably weirding out the nurses. Good times. So, maybe I'll get to the game, but most likely I'll be watching it from my living room. At least it won't be from a hospital bed. I am looking forward to going home now, though, although I had to think it over very hard. It will only be for about a week anyway.

So school/computer problems aside, life is pretty good. I think I am going to start phasing this out soon. I have a bone marrow biopsy tomorrow, and after that things calm down for a bit. So we'll see what happens with the b-log. In the meantime, thanks for reading, and enjoy the rest of this week! Peace.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Would it be cliche to write a Thanksgiving Post on Thanksgiving?

Yes. Yes it would. Luckily, I will still do my best to write one. Thanksgiving honestly doesn't mean very much to me anymore. Consumerism, the driving force of America, has almost eradicated Thanksgiving as a holiday. After Halloween, stores went straight to putting up Christmas decorations. I suppose it makes sense from a commercial standpoint: Thanksgiving is not a money-making holiday. Halloween is; Christmas is. The point of Thanksgiving is to give thanks for what we have. It is difficult to find a way to commercialize that concept, although the food stores do a good job in marketing and selling the "Thanksgiving feast" foodings. And yet it is the point of this day that needs to be emphasized.

I have not spent a Thanksgiving with my family in three years. As I mentioned, it isn't very important to me. I am thankful every single day for what I have and for who I am. I don't need an excuse to eat turkey or nap for two hours after sleeping eleven hours last night. The point of Thanksgiving, to me at least, shouldn't be a day to indulge yourself without feeling guilty. For the past three years, I have spent today just enjoying being me. Last year I went to Starbucks and a movie by myself. This year I worked on a photo project, napped, and relaxed. The absolute best part of this is that I am on my own, in my own apartment, spending the day how I want. As much as I am stressed out or anxious about school, I am content with my life right now.

One year ago I was working myself ragged. I remember last Thanksgiving break: on Wednesday, I worked at the gym from 6-10 am, and then I went to Borders to work from 11-8. I was sick, I was exhausted, and my cancer had just kicked in for real. I couldn't walk up stairs without blacking out from the lack of oxygen to my brain. I was taking Nyquil to help me sleep because I was dead tired but not sleeping well. I looked terrible. Two weeks later, I was in a hospital. The funny thing is, if you had asked me, I would have said I was happy. I would have said I was thankful for being able to live my life how I wanted.

So much has changed, and yet not a whole lot has, really. I am thankful for the same things and more. I am healthy, ish. At least, I won't be dying any time soon. I am having a tough semester, but I am surviving, and I am Here. I am in this semester. I can't think of anything better than that. No, I am not with my family, but they have probably had enough of me for a bit. I don't need one day of gorging myself on stuffing to remind me that I have So much to be thankful for. We all have so much to be thankful for, regardless of what day it is or how much pie is on the table. So I hope everyone is having a good day. I hope everyone can realize they can eat turkey whenever they want because it is delicious. And I hope and pray everyone is healthy and thankful for it. Thank you all for being there for me for this past year. Pax.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

It is snowing!

November 20th, and it is snowing hardcore in Boston. I was so excited when I left work this morning and found myself surrounded by falling, white wetnesses.

I really haven't had that much to report since my last report, which is why I haven't reported anything. Last Wednesday I met with my doctor to discuss what comes next for me. He took me off most of my pills, so I am now only taking two types of pills in the morning, and I will be reducing it to one within the next few days. I love not having to take pills; they were one of the worst parts of treatment. So much to remember. I will, however, start taking more pills once I resume my follow-up treatment. I am finished with the main chemo, but I still have a year to go until I am finished with everything, officially. I am giving myself a two week break right now though. Next Wednesday, one week from tomorrow, I get another bone-marrrow biopsy, and then I start the remaining treatments. Those will include three types of low-grade chemo: mercaptopurine pills once a day, methotrexate pills once a week (17!), and an IV push of vincristine once a month. This means that my white blood counts will still be low for the next year, but they shouldn't be dangerously so. I will also probably be getting intermittent labs and a bone-marrow procedure every six months. This race isn't over yet, but the worst of it is behind me.

My hair is getting long; I think I may need a haircut. I have started running, although slowly and not frequently. I actually desperately need new running shoes. I am starting to have knee trouble, and I would rather not exacerbate that. Hopefully the Boston Globe will run my story this coming weekend. It has been delayed a few times, but we should be on schedule now. I am anxious to see how it goes, although I'm sure it will be great. It's funny because I wonder if people will recognize me or realize that they cut me off at the T or bumped into me on the street. I doubt it, as I don't think most people are that observant, but you never know.

Otherwise, I am just getting along. Final exams and final project deadlines are rapidly approaching, and I have no time to think about anything other than school. Thanksgiving will be nice because I have no chemo or blood counts or procedures to worry about. I am looking forward to relaxing a bit, just chilling out in my apartment. So hopefully I will be able to.

Enjoy Thanksgiving, and I hope everyone is safe and well-fed and warm. Peace.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Every so often, reality kicks in.

Reality says that every living thing must die. I found out a few hours ago that one of the guys I know from group, back in Chicago, passed away yesterday. I don't remember what his primary cancer was, but it had spread to most of his internal organs, I think. He had been struggling for a while, but he was struggling hard. I am upset because Greg was a good man. He was kind; he was funny; he seemed to love life. And he gave his cancer a damn hard time. So while we all knew, deep down, that he would eventually die, it is still hard. Reality is still hard. I didn't know him well, but I still knew him. We still casually chatted, and we still knew about each others ups and downs. He didn't deserve to die; very few people do. I can only hope that he is in a good place now, that his pain is finally gone, that there are no more tubes coming out of his stomach. I am praying for his family, and I am praying for everyone I know, and everyone I will never know, who is just as brave as Greg. Life should be fought for, even to the very end. Thank you Greg; I am honored to have known you.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

And so we find ourselves at November 8, 2007.

It is cold and partly sunny today in Boston. Yesterday was cool and bright. Tomorrow will be more of the same. Life in the city has calmed down some since the World Series, and I have noticed fewer birds around. The mice in my apartment are gradually disappearing, and I covertly played the "C" card to my landlord in order to get a new stove and new tiling for our floor. Oh yeah, and yesterday was my last day of chemo.

Wait, what? That's right. Yesterday, November 7th, 2007, one day before the 11th month anniversary of my diagnosis with acute lymphocytic leukemia, I finally finished chemotherapy for this dastardly disease. Three months later than I would have liked, but it is finished. And boy, what a day was yesterday. I'll start with the good part: my hematocrit, the percentage of red blood cells in blood, was 40.5, with healthy being between 34.8 and 43.6. When I was diagnosed almost a year ago, I think it was 14 or 15. This is probably the highest that number has been in over a year and a half. So much red blood! So exciting! My white cell count was 2.1, and it should be above 3.5 to be in the normal range, but that will eventually come back. So my body is finally starting to work again.

Of course, however, there is always a bad part. Yesterday, there were a few bad parts. Part one: my left arm exploded. Kind of. Well, it blew up. By blew up, I mean it expanded. Let me explain: One of the drugs I received yesterday and have received before, methotrexate, infuses over three hours. I no longer have my catheter, so every time I need an infusion, I get to have an IV put in my arm. Now, I have bad veins in general. I have had a lot of trouble with getting IVs to work. So, I was stuck twice yesterday before my blood was flowing properly. Here's where it gets gross. At one point, about forty-five minutes to an hour into the infusion, somehow, the needle came out of my vein. It didn't come out of my arm, just found its way out of the vein. What this meant was that chemotherapy was infusing, not into my bloodstream, but directly into my arm tissue and such. Let's not ignore the fact that I decided it was necessary to take a nap, having not realized what was going on with the needle. I woke up thirty minutes later to a forearm about four times its normal size. My left hand felt like it was asleep, and I couldn't really feel my forearm. I think it is fair to say I freaked out. I mean, there was a whole lot of chemo where it shouldn't be. A nurse came, took out the needle, and gave me a hot pack to help the swelling go down. They assured me that this wasn't uncommon, and it wouldn't affect the levels or toxicity of the drug. The nurse then stuck me (again) in my right arm, and they finished the transfusion. My arm and hand are still slightly swollen, but nothing has turned a funky color yet, so I guess it will be okay. No gangrene so far. What an adventure.

That was part one. Part two was my spinal tap. It did not go so well. Last time, my spinal tap took around 15 minutes. This one took between 30 and 45. In that time, I was repeatedly numbed, stuck in the spine, and numbed and stuck again, to no avail. My spinal fluid was just not flowing. The idea is that the doctor sticks the needle between the vertebrae into your spinal fluid, and they withdraw 3 cc's of spinal fluid, which is replaced with 3 cc's of chemo. After much grimacing and joking that my spinal fluid was Gone!, the woman doing the procedure finally found a good spot, although not without hitting one of the main nerves that controls my right leg. That was a freaky feeling. It felt like a bunch of needles were poking my whole leg from the inside out. But it was over quickly. So that was the spinal tap. Good times. Good times with needles.

I am pretty sure my body was rejecting everything that the doctors and nurses were trying to put into it yesterday. It was saying to them, "Enough. I have had enough. No more." Sadly, that was not to be. But I made it! I still have to go back this evening to receive more fluids, as well as the flush for the chemo, so one more major IV poke. Hopefully this one will actually work. I am not that excited right now because I still have to be stuck tonight, and I don't feel all that great. I feel fine, actually, but next week, I will feel even better. Give me a few days for this to sink in and for my multiple holes to heal up. Then, call me, and we'll celebrate. Hokey doke, take care on this fine fall day, and enjoy the long weekend! Pax.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

The "vicissitudes of fortune...

...and other disappointments connected with worldly circumstances...are principally the effect either of gross imprudence, of ill-regulated desires, or of bad or imperfect social institutions" (John Stuart Mill Utilitarianism, 106). I interpret this sentence to mean that change in fortune, specifically regarding ill fortune, is dependent on human action. I could certainly be wrong here, but it seems Mill is saying that we control our own fortunes. He notes a few lines earlier that "even that most intractable of enemies, disease, may be indefinitely reduced in dimensions by good physical and moral education and proper control of noxious influences, while the progress of science holds out a promise for the future of still more direct conquests over this detestable foe."

Mill's phrase the "vicissitudes of fortune" has been nagging me all day. I wish I could believe if society pulled together and started actually caring about change, most, if not all, ill fortune and "other disappointments" would disappear. I know, however, that it won't. We can treat cancer; we can't cure it. I believe that no matter how pleasant we can make our circumstances and surroundings, there will always be an unspoken and indescribable unhappy feeling creeping around. There is something inherent in us that allows for us to not be happy all the time. But this something is not under our control, and social change, however good, will not take it away.

I have been struggling to push this darkness to the back of my mind. The honeymoon is over, and I have been reminded just how hard it is to be a college student, what with the late nights, studying, incomprehensible philosophers, or just trying to keep days straight. I have always had to work to keep my life organized, and now I have a whole new dimension to consider: chemo, my white blood cell counts, whether or not my temperature is rising. I am mostly successful in keeping cancer in the background. There are some days, however, when I just want to not think about anything. Yesterday, for example, I had work at the gym. I love working there in the mornings during the week, but the weekend is a different story. I worked from 8-2 yesterday, and by the end, I was exhausted. There had been too many people, too many children running around, too many customers projecting their angriness and unhappiness towards me. It was too much for me, when I have been going almost nonstop for over a month now. I broke down when I left the gym; I started crying so hard I couldn't breathe. And then I got on the train and came back to my apartment. I baked some cookies and got caught up on my Grey's Anatomy. And then I went to Barnes and Noble and bought a few new, beautiful books, and I felt better. I feel better.

Everything is different for me now. I can't handle the same type of stress or activity that I could a year ago. My tolerance has been adapted for hospitals and needles and pills. I am very slowly relearning how to be busy me. I am going through some tough times, but they are moderated by the good things that do keep happening and the good people I have around me. Today was better than yesterday. Tomorrow may or may not go well. I just have to wait and see what Fortune drops on my lap. Hopefully good things. Good luck to everyone else struggling this week. Life will necessarily get better. Peace.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I guess there was some sort of major sports-related debacle in Boston recently?

Yes, the Boston Red Sox won, swept rather, this year's World Series. Yes, I go to school in Boston. I go to school directly across the street from Fenway Park. This does not, however, necessarily mean that I am a Red Sox fan or even that I participated in the extensive celebrations. I am fairly certain that I slept through the ALCS win, although I did have to photograph the goings-on at Fenway the next day. I was almost asleep two nights ago until someone nearby started pounding on a cowbell, and the mayhem began. These, however, are instances for which I will pull my "C card." I would love to have photographed the reaction to the ALCS win and the World Series win. Seriously, how many times will I be in Boston when the Red Sox win the World Series? Probably not too many. But I could not afford to stay up until 2 in the morning in the cold with hordes of riotous people, especially when I am more susceptible to sickness. My cold has come back either way, but it never really leaves. So I suppose this was one of those times when cancer interfered with being a normal student. I regret not photographing everything, but I know I made the right decision. There's always the Patriots?

In other news, today I was interviewed/spoke in front of the first-year Boston University medical students. I was nervous; I was hungry; I had no idea what to expect. The discussion went Awesomely. I didn't stutter too much, and I only lisped once. Seriously though, I am so happy with how receptive the students were. Apparently I was very "eloquent" and provided a necessary contrasting perspective for these students, usually so intent on the science of medicine. The focus of the conversation was my experience with doctors and my opinions on how to find a balance between treating illnesses with medicine and treating the patient as a Person. My view is that a doctor needs to be able to empathize with his or her patients. It is not fair to any person to be treated as an object of Science, when they really just want someone to treat them as equals. I have found this especially hard for medical students and interns to understand because they are trying so hard to maintain doctor/patient boundaries, in addition to the fact that they don't have much experience with patients. My case is special also because I was by no means a passive patient. I wanted to know what was going on with me, whether I understood it or not. It is insulting to me if you don't recognize my intelligence or the fact that I need to be active. The hospital was the worst place for me, which I think my doctors eventually understood, even though it took some time to get used to my nature.

I hope the medical students understand that the best thing they can do is treat someone with respect and some degree of empathy. Hopefully my sitting in front of them increases their understanding that while I am still a patient, and I need to be treated for my disease, I am also one of their peers and should be treated as such. They actually gave me a standing ovation at the end, which, while embarrassing for me, makes me hope that maybe some of what I said sank in. Maybe my experiences can be positively translated to help others. That's what I hope, anyway.

I have a midterm tomorrow that I am really not prepared for, but I think it will turn out okay. After that, I will be sleeping and sleeping some more. Happy Tuesday, sad toad. Things are looking up. Peace.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Gawsh, what a week.

I am pretty sure that I have spent much of the past week studying. I had a midterm last Thursday, which I think went fairly well. Yesterday, I finally took my Human Infectious Diseases final exam. This was one of my classes from fall '06 in which I received an incomplete. Now it is completed, and only have one more incomplete to take care of. Whew. Sunday night, crazy girl that I am, I played flag football. I also decided it would be fine to cover the one girl who was actually good. She was running all over the place, and I got to tail her. I think I did a decent job, although I was exhausted by the end of the game. But I was running! And I didn't pass out! I am so happy that my body is finally coming back to life.

Speaking of my body pooping out on me, it has been two weeks since I last received chemo. Following protocol, today should have been my next - and last - encounter with the wicked drugs. But of course, it would be too easy for everything to go according to a set plan. I did not receive any chemo today. Once again, my white blood cell count was much too low to proceed. My neutrophil count (they are the first responders to infection) has actually plummeted from .97 to .18, and they need to be above 1.0 to continue. So next Wednesday I will go in for labs, but we aren't expecting my counts to be high enough until at least two weeks from today, if not longer. Of course I am disappointed, especially as this now means that I am neutropenic again. My immune system won't be able to combat any nasty little bacteria that decide to invade my system. Due to the nature of city-living, unfortunately, bacteria are nearly impossible to avoid. The trains and buses are crawling with germies, as are just about all public places. So while I am not going to restrict myself to my room for the next two weeks, I do need to be overly careful of crowds and such. Do not, however, believe that this will hinder me in any way from trying to find various Halloween parties this weekend; it will not. Regardless of my susceptibility to everything, the show must go on.

Today was good for one thing though: I met with a nutritionist at Dana-Farber, and I now know what I should be eating. She told me that cancer patients' protein needs increase, which I did not know, and she gave me an extensive list and explanation of foods high in protein. She also gave me a sheet that listed "Phytonutrient rich foods." I have since learned that phytonutrients essentially make up most plants' immune systems. The immune systems of plants have beneficial properties for humans as well, so I will be eating more of my leafy greens, red peppers, squash, apples, blueberries, apricots, papaya... The list goes on. I am definitely excited to go shopping now. Go Guava!

Generally, I am exhausted. It is not bad, because it means I am busy and getting things done, but I am still exhausted. I can not believe that November is in one week; this year is going by so quickly. Well, this school year. The rest of the year rather dragged. The important thing is that I am in a good place right now, even though I still have chemo looming, somewhere in the near or distant future. So even though I am super tired, this is the type of tired that can be solved by sleeping in one day, as opposed to the other type of tired that can only be solved by the transfusion of blood products. Life is definitely getting back to normal, whatever normal is anymore. Alright, enjoy the end of the week. Peace.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I was shot in the arm today.

And by shot, I mean I was given a shot. Specifically, I was given a virus. Even more specifically, I was shot with the flu virus. Fortunately for me, the virus had been killed. As the flu season looms ominously in the distance, it recently occurred to me that perhaps this year I should get a flu shot. I asked my doctor who resoundingly said, "Yes. Get the shot." I suppose it makes sense: I have few white blood cells to combat any sort of viral infection that may decide to find its way into me. Since there is no prescription available to battle viruses, my best option was to receive the immunization. Now that the virus has been injected into my system, I will be able to create antibodies for it. That way, if I do happen to catch the actual flu virus, I will already have built up a resistance. So awesome. Best case scenario, I just don't catch the virus.

Today was sort of ridiculous, in the way that my days tend to be. I suppose I should preface this by explaining what is currently going on in my life. I noted a few posts ago that I was asked to be interviewed in front of the first-year medical students regarding my perspective on terminal illnesses and such. Okay, exciting, I can do that. But the plot thickens. This story was pitched to The Boston Globe, the main newspaper here in Boston. The story was picked up by the "Higher Education" department, and they decided to expand it beyond my talking to the med students. Basically, there will soon be an in-depth profile of me in The Globe involving interviews, photos, possibly multi-media, and excerpts from my blog. The reporter who is writing the story is going to be shadowing me a bit over the next week-ish to try and get a better sense of who I am and why I am who I am. It is pretty intense, and I wish her luck. The really ironic thing is that while she is profiling me and the photographer is taking pictures of me doing my thang, I am supposed to be coming up with an idea for a photo essay for my photojournalism class. And I have no clue what to do. I kind of want to do my photo essay on the photographer doing a photo essay about me, but I'm not sure if that would work so well.

Anyway. So today, I get to my Hinduism class, and my professor starts by saying, "Before we begin, Caroline, would you like to explain to everyone about the people from The Boston Globe who will be joining us in class next week?" Now, I knew that the reporter was planning on coming to a class at some point, but I hadn't expected her to have worked so fast in getting permission. (Perhaps that is why I wouldn't be a very good journalist...) So, I sort of muttered something about, "I am currently receiving chemo, and I'm talking to the med students in two weeks, and the Globe has decided to profile me, which involves their coming to my classes. So, um, dress nicely on Monday...?" I sounded like an idiot. My professor then said, "And you're writing a blog, as well? Why don't you give us the link." So, okay, I did. Wrote it on the board and everything. (Hello to anyone from class, if you actually copied the link and are visiting my b-log). I sort of doubt they will, just because I know how college students are, and I know that they don't tend to care tremendously about what their peers do in their free time. Regardless. My teacher's announcement was unexpected, and I was quite taken aback. The point is that a reporter and photographer will be joining me in class on Monday. We'll see how it goes.

Although the subject of much of the profile, I have essentially stopped worrying or thinking about how I have changed and how it is affecting my daily life. I don't really see the point anymore. I am who I am, regardless of disease or drugs, and that's cool with me. Finally, briefly: my blood counts have fallen since last week, which was to be expected. Hopefully they will come up again for next Wednesday when I am scheduled for my FINAL chemo treatment. Happy white blood cell thoughts, that is all I ask. Alright, thanks for sticking with me. More updates as life happens, which it inevitably will. Happy Hump Day. Pax.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Let us now all exhale a collective sigh of relief that another post has been written.

I would say that I am not sure why I don't update more frequently, but this week I know exactly why. This week I received my second-to-last chemo treatment. No, it was not my last one, but we are almost there. After nearly eight weeks, my blood cells had finally regrown enough for me to be able to kill them all again. It's rather contradictory: just when I am finally starting to feel healthy and full of blood, I get to go and have lethal drugs injected into my system. I say lethal because they kill cells. I am pretty sure the drugs will not actually kill me. There are, however, no guarantees of this.

Wednesday morning I hopped on a bus, and twenty minutes later, I found myself at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute with a lump of dread weighing in my stomach. I was quickly admitted and given a chair. I was then moved to a bed because I needed to have a spinal tap later on in the day. Not only was this my first time getting chemo by myself, now I was in a solitary room. Oh well; it's better than the alternative. After that, my nurse poked a needle into my right arm vein. Unfortunately, this needle wasn't returning any blood, so we had to find another vein. Luckily, I had been saving up my good veins, and there was one on my other arm. Blood was drawn, hydration was given, and then the chemo began. It began with an injection into the IV, which was short and sweet. I was then hooked up to my bag of methotrexate, which was neither short nor sweet. In fact, it went in over three hours, and it was bright yellow. Time dripped away, and I finally found myself with nothing hooked up to me. Then it was the spinal tap's turn. This was to be my seventh spinal tap, a fact I am not necessarily proud of, but it's kind of hardcore. Anyway, so this spinal tap wasn't that bad, hardly any pain. The doctor (nurse? I'm not sure) went right in, drew the fluid, and replaced it with chemo straight away. She was quite speedy. I had to lie flat on my back for thirty minutes, and then I was free to go. So I went.

I went back to my apartment. I took a cab; I had gotten cab vouchers at Dana-Farber. I got back to my apartment, and within fifteen minutes, I was throwing up. I felt kind of bad for my roommate, but not really because I'm not sure he noticed. For about forty-five minutes I tried to vomit out my stomach. And then I ate some chips and slept for an hour. And then I slept twelve more.

That was Wednesday. Today is Sunday. In the meantime, I have been battling a cold, trying to study, and running around probably a bit too much. I feel fine, aside from this beastly cold. My energy isn't quite where it was, but it is pretty darn close. I am fairly sure that this is the best I have handled any chemo since I started. I actually played flag football today. We won. I scored a touchdown. It was awesome. So this is life now, I suppose. Get my drugs, and move on. I don't have time to mope around the apartment feeling ill. I have to get back to business and soon. I am excited for this week; it should be a good week. I hope everyone else has a good week as well. Good luck with life! Oh Also: Shout out to Amy who ran the Chicago Marathon a week ago. She finished, which is more than a lot of people could say last Sunday. She ran with Team in Training, who raise funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and I guess they raised a Ton of money. Thank you Amy!!! Good luck with your recovery. Anyway, that's all. Peace.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Dear blog,

This weekend was a lot of fun. I went to my friend's house, and we watched a movie. The movie was really weird, but it was an old movie. The really cute boy in my class waved at me on Friday. I'm going to ask my friend to ask his friend if he has a girlfriend. Well, maybe. I stayed up past my bedtime on Sunday night to watch the Bears football game, and they won! It was super awesome. And we didn't have school today! The only bad thing is I got sick again. All my friends are sick. I guess they got me sick too.

Okay, enough of that. This weekend was probably my best one since I've been back, despite having re-caught my cold. I don't think I ever really got over the last one, and I'm still immuno-compromised, so it makes sense that it came back. I just realized, however, that I can't remember the details of my weekend, which is becoming more than a little disconcerting. Yesterday and today I mostly just relaxed, this I know. I so badly needed to just sit around and not think about anything. This past week has been so overwhelming. I can't believe it has only been one week since my birthday. It seems so long ago. I suppose part of the reason I can't remember what I did specifically on any one day is that I did so much and talked to so many new people this past week. I am starting to freak out a little bit though because of my newfound inability to remember recent events. We'll see what happens with it, especially after I get chemo this week.

An interesting tidbit I do remember, though, happened when I was working at the gym on Saturday. One of the regular dance teachers came in to get the keys to the studio, and she said to me, "Wow, your hair is really growing!" I laughed because it is hard for me to tell if it's getting any longer but she said something like she measures her progress every week by the length of my hair. It made more sense than that, but it was quite funny and very nice of her to say. So I guess my hair is getting closer to a decent length, although it's still one of the shortest female cuts on campus. I like it. Anyway, tomorrow's a long day, and Wednesday is chemo. We'll see what happens. I am rested and ready to go, but I still hope everything goes well. I need this to end, now. Alright, enjoy Tuesday and whatnot. Peace.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Back in the library.

Waiting for something to print. I apologize for not updating more frequently. It's amazing how much more difficult it is to write daily when you actually have things to do. Life certainly is different now that I am not my sitting on a hospital bed with absolutely nothing to do.

An update is in order. A major update. The past two days have been... crazy. I don't know how else to put it. It all started when BU Today ran the profile of me the day before my birthday. I started getting e-mails and messages from completely random people wishing me happy birthday and also telling me how much they liked the interview. There were lots of, "I really admire your courage," quotes, which to me is amazing. I was thinking about this, and I came to the conclusion that anyone else in this situation would have done the same thing. I've just been more vocal with my experiences. Either way. I probably received over 100 e-mails on Monday and Tuesday, both well-wishes and birthday wishes. Two e-mails are worth noting:

The first was from a woman who was forwarded my story from a BU student. She told me she is writing a book about college-age cancer survivors. Specifically, she has interviewed and been in contact with about forty survivors. She has taken their firsthand accounts of their cancer experiences and put them together for a book. Anyway, so she e-mailed me and asked if I would like to be one of the survivors in the book, which is so far nameless. I of course said Yes. We've talked on the phone, and it sounds like such a fantastic idea. The book is not just of the survivors' stories, but it also contains letters and pictures and such. I am so flattered to be a part of this and so excited that she is writing it. There are no other books out there that highlight specifically young-adult survivors, that tell their stories in their own words. I mean, really, it would have been a huge help ten months ago to know about others who were going through the same thing. So I am excited, and it is going to be great.

Part Two: I was contacted by the dean of the medical school here at BU, and, long story short, I will be speaking to pretty much all of the first-year medical students at the end of October. I guess I'm pretty good at expressing myself, and people think that's cool? Anyway, I will be talking about what it was like when I was first diagnosed, how the doctors treated me, my reaction, etc. And did I mention it will be in front of masses of first-year med students? Yes, I think I did. Pretty sweet. I guess if I ever had any lingering fear of public speaking, I had better eliminate it quickly.

So here's the thing about all this attention I am receiving: It's not that I don't necessarily want it, but I don't want it just for the sake of getting attention. I want to be able to make a difference, whether by helping increase empathy for future doctors, or by helping another twenty year-old girl just diagnosed with cancer get through the hard parts. I don't want my fifteen minutes of cancer-fame; I want to try and do something lasting. I am not sure yet how to translate all this into a "cause" though. Maybe start something at BU for survivors; I have heard from a couple, which is amazing. Maybe start a Gilda's Club or a Boston young-adult group, or something. I'm not sure. I do know, however, that now it is up to me to take this ball and run with it. Anyway. So that's been my week. Like I said, it has been crazy. I hope your week was as awesome, and I hope the weekend goes well as well. Oh yeah, still no chemo. Next Wednesday, for sure. Alright, that's all (haha, even though there's always more.) Pax.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Guess What.....

In ONE HOUR AND FORTY MINUTES I will be 21. I will be 21 in Boston! I think it's safe to say that I still don't fully believe it. I feel great. I've been walking all over the place, and my cold is mostly gone. Also, there was a super cool profile of me on BU Today today. There are pictures and sounds and words and everything. So if you've ever wondered what I sound like, or if you would like to hear my voice regurgitating, in shortened form, much of what I have said on the b-log, check THIS out! I am impressed; it is pretty cool. I am interested to see if more people recognize me on campus now. I'm sort of hard to miss, what with this whole Rocking haircut, but we'll see.

My day begins tomorrow at 5 am, when I wake up for my 6-10 shift at the Proshop. I am excited. It's going to be a good day. I hope your day is as good as mine. Happy thoughts all around. Peace. :)

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Sunday is a day of eating.

I usually have something like three breakfasts on Sunday and snack the rest of the day. I think it is because on the days I don't do much, I eat. (Worth noting is that my idea of a breakfast is a bagel or bowl of cereal.)

Another week has ended, another begun. Today is the last day of September, and tomorrow is the first day of October, which means that I have been in Boston for one month now. I still haven't started my chemo, but I am hoping I will this coming week. It has certainly been a crazy past four weeks. It seems that whenever my lifestyle changes, it does so drastically and with no forewarning. December 2006, I went, in one week, from being a sleep-deprived college student to an overwhelmed hospital patient with tubes sticking out of me. One month ago, in three days, I went from pretty much not doing anything at all, aside from going to clinics, to having to take a deep breath and dive back into the crazy, active world of college. There was no transition period, although I don't know how there could have been. Now, after a month, I feel like I'm finally getting settled. I made a few bad decisions the past four weeks (house parties are a bad idea for those of us who aren't used to 200 people stuffed together, oozing beer). I am still not fully confident in my role as a college student, but I am in a much better place than I was when I first got here. I also have lots of blood, which is, you know, awesome. Oh, and my hair is growing back like crazy. So life is pretty good, especially now that I've stopped worrying so much about what I should be doing. I should be doing my homework, but aside from that, I am mostly just relaxed.

I can't believe it's almost October. Two days and I will be 21. I will be spending the day with my friends, and who believed, even a few months ago, that that would happen? Well, I always knew I'd be back, but it's nice to be right. So, have a good week everyone, because I sure will. And even if I start chemo on Thursday, it will still be a good week because then I will be one week closer to being finished with treatment. Limbo isn't so much fun. Alright, Peace.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

What good is a b-log if you can't use it to procrastinate?

I don't have all that much school-work to do, but I most definitely have about three loads worth of laundry. Oh well, it will get done eventually, even if I have to do it myself. Which I do.

It occurred to me that in my last few blog posts I may have sounded either somewhat elitist or judgmental of pretty much anyone who isn't me. I would like to clarify that In No Way do I feel higher or more special than anyone else. I wish so badly that this hadn't happened to me and that I was just another college-age girl ready and able to drink and dance and party and stay up past 11:00 at night without starting to fall asleep. The thing is, I am not. According to Aristotle, one wishes for an end that is often impossible to achieve. So instead of wishing for the end, one needs to deliberate and make decisions that will provide the means to the end (see, I'm kind of studying...). Basically, wishing is no good because there is no action or effort towards achieving the end. You need to go out and do things to make yourself happy, which to Aristotle is the ultimate end, the highest good, which we all innately seek. So while I can wish all I want that I could do normal activities like stay up late and work out in the gym, the reality is that I can't, at least not now. And more power to everyone who can do those things. The thing for me now is to figure out with what means I can work to achieve my own sort of happiness. The first step is to stop sitting here thinking about what do I do now. I just do whatever I have to to get through each day.

And speaking of getting through each day, I am so out of shape, it is funny. I played flag-football last night (we almost won. sigh.), and it was a ton of fun. But I woke up this morning and was like, wow, sore legs, where did you come from? Sore abs? You too? I think sports like that will be the best way for me to get back into some sort of running shape. It's stop and go, so I can run a little bit and then stop and catch my breath. And football is awesome. Another reminder that I was inactive for almost nine months is that my neck and back are sore from hauling my bag everywhere. The good news is that even since I got here September 1st, I am already so much more active and strong. I lost probably about 30 pounds worth of strength in my legs and maybe 15 in my upper body. But it is coming back, which is freaking awesome. Aside from this whole "no blood" thing, I feel great and healthy and am looking forward to a good last week of being 20. (my birthday's next tuesday. coughcough.) Alright, Happy Tuesday, sad toad. Keep on trucking. Peace.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Hello new week.

My apartment-mate and I finally have internet. We have actually had it for a few days now, but I haven't had too much to say in terms of anything that would be interesting to anyone else. Wednesday I went to Dana-Farber once more, and, once more, my blood counts were too low to begin the chemo. My platelets had actually fallen even more, but my white cells had begun to increase. My doctor estimated it would be roughly two weeks before we could continue, but I am going back this Wednesday to have labs drawn.

It occurs to me once again that this b-log serves a number of good purposes, not the least of which is that it helps me remember what happened so many months ago. I honestly can't remember any specifics just off the top of my head. Everything is sort of a blur of hospital-house-clinic imagery. One thing I re-learned just now is that I have unofficially been in complete remission for almost nine months. Apparently I had a biopsy/aspirate done a few weeks into treatment, way back in December, and everything was gone. This in and of itself was and is awesome; it meant I responded quickly and well to the initial induction chemotherapy. I can't help but wonder, however, if it wouldn't be possible to just stop treatment now. I mean, I only have two more separate days of chemotherapy left... Will they really make that big of a difference, considering I have been in and stayed in remission since December? I know the answer to my question is, "Of course you need to finish it." I am on a set protocol; I am a member of an extensive study. They wouldn't just let me stop. Nonetheless, I will continue to wish.

As for an update on my adapting to society, it isn't going tremendously well. I received an e-mail from a family friend who was able to verbalize what I couldn't: "you've just got more quickly -in the space of a few short months- to a point that most people only reach well after they graduate." I realized that I really do not know what to do right now because it all happened so quickly. Like I said, the past nine months were a blur, but now I am back and nothing is the same. So what happened to me, and how do I apply what I went through to everyday situations? Also, my emotions are all over the place, particularly because I am still dealing with treatment and the day-to-day uncertainty of my health. The good news is I think I am going to try and start seeing a counselor at Dana-Farber, someone who is trained and experienced in working with cancer survivors. I was at the grocery store today, and one of the headlines on the trashy magazines was, "Jessica sees a therapist!" or something similar. Jessica being Jessica Simpson. To me, that is not gossip. So many people see therapists now that it really isn't gasp-worthy anymore. Good for her for seeing a therapist. And we'll see how it goes for me. Also, I am going to get a massage because Dana offers alternative therapies in addition to the usual chemical ones. I am all over that. I hope this is a good week; I hope good things happen for everyone. That's all from me. Pax.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Hello again!!

I am understandably quite upset that I still have no internet and therefore have very few opportunities to document my life for the masses. And, as is to be expected, I have volumes to document. Not really, but enough for at least a couple paragraphs.

Not much has happened medically since I last updated. In fact, nothing at all has happened medically since I last updated. I am still going strong with the blood I received last week, and I will find out tomorrow if my other counts have gone up. I am hoping they have. A whole lot has happened, however, in terms of my readjusting to society. I had been absent from a college environment for almost nine months. In those almost nine months, I went to two parties with people my own age (one was a disappointing Super Bowl party), I went to two concerts, and the only young adults I saw on a consistent basis were also cancer survivors. My experiences have been drastically different from most other people my age, although they were not necessarily any better or worse. Breaking up with your boyfriend is no less important than whatever I went through; it is just completely different.

The thing is, since my past nine months have been so abnormal, I have grown in a different direction than most people around me. I knew I would be changed when I got back to school, but it is difficult for me to objectively analyze the magnitude and the mental effects of having had cancer, since it happened to me and is still happening, really. Someone said to me the other day, "You're really weird." I was like, "What, I'm weird?" I don't think that person meant weird in the sense of being nutty and kind of out there (which I have always been), but more in the sense that I am somehow different now and that person couldn't really define why. I think basically what it comes down to is that I no longer have a tolerance for all the facades many people assume. Also, I have become much more blunt with what I say, which is both good and bad. I am doing a terrible job of explaining this, but again, it's because I can't verbalize what happened to me.

I got cancer; I left school; I survived (am surviving) chemotherapy; I have experienced really obscure types of pain; I have been more exhausted than I thought possible; I was in a hospital room for probably at least one-third to one-half of that time. Somehow, I found the strength to get through it all when I thought I had used up most of my reserves of strength when I survived high school (no, really. High school was so difficult for me). Now here I am, back in Boston, so happy to once again be living normally and with people. Clearly, I am changed, but I can't say exactly how. All I know is that I feel out of place at parties where cheap beer flows like water, drunk freshman girls are looking for attention, and drunk older guys are looking for the shortest skirt and the lowest shirt. That may be harsh, but that's the sort of thing I can not and will not deal with anymore. I have only been back in Boston just over two weeks, so it is going to be interesting to see how the rest of the semester progresses. Will I re-adapt to the college social norm? I sincerely hope not. But something's gotta give somewhere.

Oh, the other thing is that someone tells me at least once a day that they like my haircut and I look really good with short hair. To which I laugh and say thank you. But it's a pretty sweet boost. Anyway, take care, and feel free to e-mail me (cbridges86@gmail.com) or comment if you have any insight into the ridiculous life of Caroline. Enjoy Wednesday. Peace.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Wow, it's been a long week.

I last updated my life's adventures on Monday, I believe. Well, now it is Friday, and a whole lot has happened in the days between. Tuesday wasn't that exciting. I worked; I didn't have class; I probably napped. Wednesday, however, was the day of my first appointment at Dana-Farber. I found my way to Dana-Farber with time to spare. (I took a train, but you can also bus it, or take a different train, or you can walk. I walked home.) So first off, I walked up to the New Patient side of the reception desk. The nurse asked me if I was a patient new to Dana-Farber; I replied affirmatively. She then asked my name, which I gave as "Caroline Bridges." To which she replied, "Oh, Caroline! You've finally made it. Well, it's good to meet you." I am pretty sure my shock was fairly visible, but I took the papers she handed me and headed over to Phlebotomy to have my blood drawn. (haha, phlebotomy.)

In brief, blood was drawn, time passed, and I was eventually led to one of the examining rooms in the back where I would meet my new doctor. Blah blah blah, I meet my doctor, he's really nice, very intelligent. He asks me some general background health questions -- no I don't smoke; no I don't drink (although I want to); yes I do drugs, oh wait, you mean like hardcore drugs; no I don't do those. All in all, I am in good general health. Oh but wait, there's one small snag. My white blood cell count is extremely low. Still?? Yes. Still. But this time, my red blood cell count has fallen, as well as my platelet count. Basically, all blood cell-related counts have dropped (plummeted?) since the last time I had labs drawn, Two Weeks Ago. At this point my doctor went to go perform a spinal tap and then call my doctor at U of C to see what she had to say about my counts. He left me sitting in the examining room, wondering why in the holy hell had my counts not come up in the four weeks since I last received chemotherapy. Again, in brief, he eventually came back and said that they would redraw my labs, but I was to come in the next day for a blood transfusion and a bone-marrow biopsy.

Enter Thursday. Well, before we enter Thursday, let me just say that Wednesday evening was one of the more stressful evenings I've ever muddled through. Pretty much the whole time I was thinking to myself, "It can't have come back. There's absolutely no way it could have come back!" After which I would either cry or punch my pillow. Because, although unlikely, it could have come back. Okay, so Thursday. I went in for my blood transfusion, which went very well. And then it was time for the biopsy/aspirate. As usual, it always sounds worse than it really is. This biopsy was definitely one of the fastest I've gone through, and it wasn't really that painful. Okay, so I go home. I nap. A few hours later, I get a phone call from my doctor. Turns out, the preliminary lab results showed Absolutely No Sign of Any leukemia cells Anywhere in my marrow. Hooray! He told me that my body must just be extremely sensitive to the chemo I had gotten, as well as these pills I was taking that are low-grade chemo. So he took me off the pills, and we're hoping that perhaps things will start to grow within the next week. I go back next Wednesday to find out.

And now it's Friday. I think I understand why doctors recommend not going to school while still undergoing chemotherapy. I couldn't concentrate on anything the past two days, I was so worried about what was wrong with me. It was a reality check that I am still not out of danger yet with this chemo business. I am still neutropenic, and everyone is still worried about the many things that can go wrong. But I will be healthy eventually, and for now, I am just so grateful that I continue to not have cancer. Anyway, thanks for reading this if you read all this. Enjoy the weekend. Peace.

Monday, September 10, 2007

"your lack of internets is seriously cramping this blog's style."

For this I apologize. I hope some people are still reading this thing, because I am by no means finished writing it. I have just been dealing with a lack of "internets." Hopefully my apartment-mate and I should be getting wireless this week, after which I will be much more regular with my postings.

For now though, I will say what little I have to say from the computer lab at BU. I am waiting for my homework to print, and the wait is close to forty-five minutes, which means I have some time on my hands. My life has been awesome and busy and a total, happy mess these past few days, but not much of it has had to do with my having cancer. I am completely moved into my apartment, and yesterday I did my first bathroom/kitchen sweep and clean. I even fixed the toilet all by myself. Score one for the mechanically inept. I have returned to my job at the gym, working fourteen hours a week. And let me tell you, I love being back to work. I mostly don't remember where anything is in the gym, such as where the women's bathrooms are, but there are other people around for those things. It feels so great to be back around people, especially people my own age. I swear, I've been so deprived, every time a guy walks by I think, "You're cute. We should get coffee." Even if he's not cute and I've stopped drinking coffee. It's really the principle of the thing. Speaking of principles, my classes are pretty good. I haven't found it at all difficult to transition back into learning-mode. I suppose it helps that I only have ten hours of class a week and no papers, just reading and photography. My kind of assignments. But basically, that's what I've been doing: the same mundane things most other kids my age are mucking through.

But as we all know, I am still getting chemotherapy for acute lymphocytic leukemia. I haven't had chemo in a few weeks now, but that may all change come this Wednesday. My appointment at Dana-Farber was finally scheduled and confirmed for this Wednesday. I was under the impression that this was just to meet my new doctor and get labs drawn, but per an e-mail from my Chicago doctor, it looks like there's a possibility that I will be admitted on Wednesday. I mentioned before that Dana-Farber isn't following the protocol that I am on yet, but they said there would be no problem in treating me. I guess they still need to iron out a few of the details, such as my doing the treatment outpatient and beginning it on a Monday or Tuesday. I am sure it will work out for the best, although, honestly, I am willing to take whatever if it means I will finally be receiving treatment. Otherwise, that's about it for now. My paper still hasn't printed, but I'm feeling optimistic. Have a good week, and don't give up on the b-log! I will be back. Peace.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

And now for yet another random location...

I am sitting in the computer lab in the library at BU, typing away and chuckling at the people who came at a bad time and are now tiredly waiting for the next open computer. Anyway. I have returned. My apartment was a bit of a grease-ball, but my parents (Thank God!) took it upon themselves to clean everything. I called my landlord this morning, and he was like, "No. Your apartment was cleaned. I came and checked it myself." But we must have drastically different ideas of what "clean" is because my apartment was by no means "clean." I would go so far as to call it "filthy," if not at least "dirty." I don't have classes on Tuesday, so I've just been phone-calling and running around trying to put my new life together. I am super excited.

A few small issues have arisen regarding my transferral to Dana-Farber. Apparently it's much more complicated than just calling Dana-Farber and saying, "Hey, I'm on my way. Give me drugs!" Many people are involved, and many e-mails and faxes have been exchanged; many more will be so. But I think it will work out, and hopefully, one day, I will finish this treatment. I think the biggest delay is that Dana-Farber, while a member of the group of hospitals who are part of the study that I'm in, hasn't actually started following the protocol I am on. It shouldn't be a problem for my treatment, but it is a bit of a groan for the doctors involved. I know everyone will figure it out though, and my doctor called me and told me that the docs at Dana-Farber are still looking forward to meeting me and treating me. So awesome. Anyway, that's about it for now. Classes start tomorrow for me, and I can not wait. Also, I don't have internet at my apartment yet, so I will update the next time I get the chance. Take care and happy September! Hooray for back to being busy. Peace.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Betcha can't guess where I am.......

I am in Buffalo, New York. No, really. I actually am. Specifically, I am in a room of a mildly skeazy hotel on the outskirts of Buffalo, New York. Why, you ask, am I in Buffalo, New York when I should be in my comfy bed at home, sleeping off my still nasty cold? Because I, with my parents, am on my way to Boston, Massachusetts! What?! you say? Yes, that's right. Yesterday, Thursday morning, I found out that once again my white counts are too low to continue with the chemo this coming Tuesday. So instead of waiting around another week and a half, moping and doing nothing, I thought, "Well, hell. Can't I just go to Boston, say, tomorrow?" I called my doctor and we agreed that it would be a good plan to drive to Boston, tomorrow (today). And here I am, about halfway there, with a Jeep more stuffed than a pimiento olive, and a nagging suspicion that I forgot something. I have all my pills... I have my neupogen... I have myself... I have a bed and mattress, rolled into the back of the car... I have way too many clothes. I guess that's it. We'll see anyway.

So come Tuesday, I will be starting classes along with the rest of my school. Except that I personally don't have any classes on Tuesday, but it's the idea of the thing. I guess I'll actually start class on Wednesday. I am excited, although granted, I am growing more concerned about my white cells. I am also not quite sure how the logistics of transferring all my medical records to Dana-Farber will work out, but I suppose I will deal with that when I need to. Otherwise, hoorah! I never thought the day would come, but I am finally on my way back to Boston. Enjoy the holiday weekend, and I'll update on the Beantown as soon as I can. Peace!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Photos always make me happy...

I would like to share these photos from my most recent Adventure! in downtown Chicago. Hopefully they will make you happy too.



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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Here is something we all can relate to.

I have a cold! A cold that is eating my soul. Given the staggering number of antiwhatevers that I am taking, I have no idea how I caught a cold. But catch one I did. The good news is that I must have enough white cells to fight it because I haven't gotten a fever, and I haven't died yet. What happens tomorrow, however, remains to be seen. I don't think this will delay my chemo though, which is also good news. I distinctly remember coming down with a cold once when I was in the hospital, and everyone just sort of ignored the fact that I sounded like a man and continued on with the administration of chemotherapeutic drugs. So, alright! Rock on.

Aside from the typical stuffiness and head-pounding associated with colds, I feel pretty good. I am beginning to pack up all my stuff for Boston. I should be in my apartment two weeks from today! Hoorah. I have, so far, plenty of kitchen utensils, a few plates, and some silverware. I do not, as of right now, actually have a bed. But I have received word that my mattress pad from last year is awaiting my return. So I might be sleeping on a foam pad under a blanket of forks in two weeks, but that's okay. I am still super excited (and apparently a strong supporter of sibilance). I just need next week's chemo to go swimmingly. And on that note, have a happy hump day and whatnot. I'm going to get me some sleeps. Peace.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

I know what today is.....!

Today, August 25, is the one-year anniversary of the last time I received a professional haircut. I had long, shiny, blondish-brown, wavy locks, and I chose to do something new and different: I got a really cute bob cut. But wait, there's more! I thought I would do a noble thing and get enough hair cut off so that I could donate it to... Locks of Love. That's right, one year ago today I had about eleven inches of hair cut off that was then donated to an organization that makes wigs for children under the age of 18 who have experienced hair loss due to various illnesses. One year ago today, I had no idea that it would be only four short months until my own hair started falling out. I was only thinking, vaguely, that Locks of Love was a good cause. I know I wasn't thinking about the kids without hair. Baldness was an inconceivable idea to me. Women and children who were bald were to be pitied because that must mean they had some terrible, unspeakable illness. Plus, I mean, they didn't have hair, and who wants that? Yet here I am, one year later, with such a completely different perspective, I almost can't believe it. I'm not bald anymore; I have essentially a buzz cut. Now when I walk around without a hat or scarf, which I have started doing, I become defensive. The absolute last thing I want is to be pitied for not having hair and its associated implications. I know I've talked about being bald on here quite a bit, but I think it's interesting to consider the person I was one year ago, unthinkingly donating my hair to Locks of Love. I have seen so many sick people in clinic, bald or otherwise. I no longer pity them with a blithe ignorance stemming from my false assumption that I was invincible. Now, it makes me so sad to see anyone who is clearly in pain or ill. I know what it feels like to be scared and sick, and I would not wish that feeling on my worst enemy.

I like to try and finish my introspections with some way for others to apply what I've learned. But I'm at a bit of a loss right now. If someone had said something similar to this to me one year ago, I would have felt sad, but I wouldn't have really understood. I wouldn't have understood that it is okay and often necessary to talk about disease. It is okay to feel sorry for people who are in a much worse physical state than me. But it is not okay to pity them. They are trying desperately hard to live a normal life, to live to see tomorrow, and that is admirable, not pitiable. Things like poverty and war are easy to understand because they can be seen, visited, fixed. Cancer and other terminal illnesses you pretty much have to experience yourself to fully understand their magnitudes. But I do have to end somehow, so I will. If you're getting your hair cut, consider donating it. Locks of Love really is a good cause, and children are helped to feel a little better about themselves, which is the most important thing. And forgive my ramblings. The end of treatment is drawing near for me, so I'm trying to figure out if I've learned anything over the past almost nine months. If nothing else, I hope anyone who reads this has learned something. Hokey doke, enjoy the rest of the weekend. Peace.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

@$%&#!

Pretty much, I don't even know what to say right now, but I am seething inside and need to say something. I had labs drawn earlier today, and I found out about an hour ago that my neutrophil count (one type of white blood cell) is too low to continue with the chemo on Monday. So once again, everything is pushed back a week. I don't even care about going back to Boston now, although I have some good news to share further down. I just really, really want this to be over. And everything keeps getting pushed back. I understand why. My body is worn down. It is taking longer to recover, and it would be too dangerous to administer chemo with low counts. But that doesn't mean I still can't be really frustrated and upset. This chemo thing turned out to be a whole lot more than I initially signed on for. Way back in December, I thought, so naively, that I would be finished by the end of June, possibly end of July. Here we are at the end of August, and I've still got another month, probably longer, to go.

But the good news, and there is good news. I will be able to finish my treatment in Boston, at Dana-Farber. This coming week, I will not be receiving chemo as planned, because of my counts. I will receive it the week after at U of C, right after Labor Day weekend. And after that week is finished, I will be driving to Boston. I'll have another week or two of waiting for my white counts to rebound, and then I will receive the last and Final! week of chemo at Dana-Farber. So it looks like I will be returning to classes while still having to deal with the drugs and their effects, but I am willing to deal with that. At least it will be in September and not too far in. Otherwise, I might not return to Boston until mid-October. So hopefully this works out.

I have reached the point where I really don't know what to do anymore. I guess just keep breathing. It's going to be a very busy next two weeks, jam-packed with packing and packing and planning and more chemo. And all I really want is for this to be over. But anyway. It will be eventually. I'm not my usual snarky self right now, but I'm sure the snark will return. I do hope the snark will return. Aight. Take care now. Pax.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

I enjoy postcards.

Both sending and receiving postcards, I find, results in much enjoyment. I say this because I am currently analyzing a postcard that my friend sent me from Hawaii, and I'm pretty certain the picture on the front has been retouched. Also, right around this time last year, this same friend and I went on an Adventure! to New York City. That's a story in and of itself, but the point is that I sent some people postcards while I was in the Big Apple.

In other news, one of my various resident bacteria was mentioned in the newspaper today. Refresher: a long time ago, during my first U of C stay, I tested positive for VRE, or vancomycin resistant enterococcus. It's a bacterium. It's resistant to a common antibiotic (vanco). That's about it. Anyway, I guess I'm a carrier. It chills out in my bladder, not doing anything special. However, I can transfer it to other people easily, who would then get infected and quite sick. VRE is the reason the hospital keeps me on contact isolation and everyone who comes in my room has to wear gloves and a gown. So anyway, there's been a whole big uproar in Chicago recently about the proliferation of another dangerous bacterium, MRSA, or methycyllin (sp?) resistant staph aureus. Mmm, staph. Basically, the governor of Illinois signed two laws yesterday that now require hospitals to test all incoming patients for MRSA, and to, I think, test for the other dangerous bacteria such as VRE. I'm not quite sure of the specifics of either law, but they are meant to decrease the number of hospital infections and resultant deaths. But I was mostly excited when I saw one of my friendly bacteria in the paper. (Worth noting, I also tested positive for Epstein-Barr virus a good while back, but that turned out to be a false alarm. I swear, every time I go to the hospital, they tell me I've got another obscure, potentially deadly virus or bacterium floating around in me.)

And finally. I went for a walk today, and in that walk, I ran a little bit more. Hooray for getting back to healthy! I also made myself dinner, and it was delicious. I am pleased. That's it. Tomorrow, Downtown Day! Peace.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Lazy day doodlings.

Quick refresher: This past Monday, I began my seventh and Final! module of chemotherapy. I have gone through this module before, way back in March. This time, however, I am doing it all outpatient, as opposed to before, when I was in the hospital. This round is prophylactic, targeting the central nervous system, which is one of the main places leukemia recurs, if it comes back. There are no leukemic cells in my spine or CNS right now, and this chemo is just to ensure that none will show up there. Hopefully, my cancer is cured and I won't have to worry about recurrence. But erring on the side of caution, I receive a lumbar puncture and spinal tap every other week for six weeks, along with IV chemo and pill chemo. The specific drug is called methotrexate, and it can be toxic to the body if it stays in too long. So the doctors give the drug 48 hours to do its thing, and then I start taking more pills to flush it out. Last time I went through this, I had trouble clearing the chemo. My kidneys decided it would be super cool to stop functioning, and I was in the hospital for, I think, two weeks before I finally cleared the stuff.

The fantastic news is that, now, everything is going very smoothly. As of Thursday morning, my methotrexate levels had fallen below the dangerous threshold, and all of my bloodwork looks great. Even though I have to get three spinal taps, I'd say this module is one of the more bearable ones. My blood counts won't fall, my hair (fuzzy as ever) won't fall out again, and aside from a day or two of not wanting to move, I generally feel healthy. I have a ton of stuff to do over the next four or five weeks, so I suppose I lucked out that this module isn't too hard on me. When it's finally finished and I can head back to school, my body won't be utterly destroyed. In fact, I think it might even be starting to heal. My hair is proof of that. I just hope everything goes as planned over the next four weeks. I Really hope my blood counts don't fall. That would probably be the biggest setback. So, for just a little while longer, keep thinking happy white blood cell thoughts. And otherwise, I'm off to do some grubbing around for food. Pax.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Chemo drugs work surprisingly quickly.

It has been just over two days since I received my chemo onslaught, and my taste buds have gone totally goofy on me. Plain tap water is awful, although I have no trouble with sparkling water, which is strange. I had some cereal for dinner, and I just felt like I was forcing myself to eat. It's always a sad time when I can no longer enjoy food. But, like they have every month for the past eight months, my taste buds will return, and food will be delicious again. Until then, I guess I'll subsist on bagels and toast and sparkling water. The really funny thing is that even though I haven't been eating that much, I've been trying to drink so much liquid that I'm pretty sure I've put on maybe five pounds in the past three days. It's all water weight, and it's all centered around my belly, but I still think it's amusing.

The other thing worth noting, although not directly related to this week, is that I guess I have wrecked one of the small veins in the top of my hand. I'm not sure how it happened, or if it's fixable (I need to talk to my doctor about that), but I guess I had a negative reaction to when one of the nurses put an IV in that vein. The vein hardened up, and it's actually quite painful if you poke it, which, of course, I do. So, I'm hoping it will eventually start working again. I don't even know, since it's hard, if blood can flow through it. It hasn't impaired my hand functioning at all, so I guess it's not a big deal. But I just thought I'd throw that out there: sometimes needles do bad things to veins. Also, there will be no more IVs in the top of my hand, if I can help it. That's about it. More blood draws tomorrow at clinic, and hopefully I'll have some good news regarding my chemo levels tomorrow evening. Right now, I'm just staying hydrated and playing the waiting game. Right on. Peace.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Eating toast.

I like toast. Especially when there is peanut butter involved. I can't type too much or too well because there is an IV sticking out of the side of my left hand. It's in a vein at right about at the flexion point of my wrist near my thumb. Basically I can't move my left hand that much in any direction. But all told, today went quite well. The IV the nurse put in is working well, and it will be coming out tomorrow. The spinal tap/lumbar puncture was virtually painless; it took about ten minutes total. I've been feeling a bit woozy since All of the chemo was stuffed into me, but I think that's finally wearing off, and I haven't had any trouble keeping down food. The most interesting detail of the day is that my urine was fluorescent yellow. The chemo was bright yellow, and, well, you know, it passes through you. So for a while there, my urine, pee, "bathroom fluids," what have you, were practically glowing. But that is all finally getting diluted. The other interesting thing is that I have been going to the bathroom All the Time. Like, no, really. I have consumed or been injected with so many fluids today. Between the water I've been drinking (a lot.), the 1000 mL of chemo, the 2000 mL worth of hydration packs, the milk I've had with my cereal, and even more water, I actually slosh when I move. But that's good. It means my kidneys are processing the fluids and getting them out of me, which is what we want. Plus, I have to get up in three hours again anyway to take 27, no, 29 pills. Woo! (It's not as ridiculous as it sounds. They are tiny pills.) So that will be my night, and I don't have to go to clinic until 4 pm tomorrow. And I am finished with the chemo for two weeks. So, hoorah. That's what's good here. Happy Tuesday, sad toad. Peace.

cbridges86@gmail.com if you feel like saying hi. :)

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Still plugging along.

To be quite frank, I am not looking forward to tomorrow. It will be at least six hours of clinic time that will include at least two needles to two separate veins, a needle to the spine, two chemo drugs, one of which infuses for three hours, multiple anti-nausea pills, and my usual cocktail of daily pills plus a few new ones. And then there's the extreme likelihood of nausea anyway, not to mention the possibility of morphine-quality back pain. All in all, tomorrow is shaping up to be quite an eventful day. I might update tomorrow; I might not. That remains to be seen.

The funny (awful? funny?) thing about this is that even a few months ago, back in March, I thought I would be finished with my chemotherapy by now. And here I am, about to start the last module, which will last six more weeks. But at least it is finally beginning. I hope this goes by quickly. I need to get back to some sort of a normal life where photography figures prominently and my friends are nearby. That'd be nice. I guess the first step is getting through tomorrow. And....... Go!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Stupid... Mosquitoes....

I swear, if I die of West Nile Virus, I will be seriously upset. West Nile is usually only fatal to the very old and the very young. And, oh yeah, those with poor immune systems. Fabulous. But I think I'm on enough anti-viral medications that I should survive. Malaria, on the other hand, might be a problem. Although, I'm not sure when Chicago last had an outbreak of malaria. I don't think there has been one in a while anyway.

BUT: Everyone's happy white blood cell thoughts, and I've received a lot of them, have done wonders in raising my platelet count. It has soared from around 60,000 one week ago to about 250,000 as of this morning. Hoorah! This means that I will be able to begin my Final! module of chemotherapy this coming Monday. And the even better news is that I will be doing it all outpatient. So, even though the temperature is hovering in the 90s, the humidity is so high you can almost swim through the air, and my house's air conditioner decided to die about 15 years ago, I am overjoyed to not have to spend any amount of time in the hospital. Hopefully I won't get an infection; that would cast a rather bleak shadow over my otherwise sunny outlook. All of the chemotherapy and the lumbar punctures can be done in clinic, which is great. I'm actually not quite sure why I am doing this outpatient. The last time I went through this module, I was in-patient. (That's when my kidneys decided it would be super cool to stop working. Good times.) But either way, I am not complaining. So that's my good news, which always makes for a good day. Plus, tomorrow's Friday, and I get to sleep in. Awesome. Peace.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The pros and cons of being bald.

Con: Your head gets really hot, and, yes, I'll admit it, sweaty, when it's hot outside.
Pro: Your head is super easy to wipe down when it gets all sweaty.

Con: No sun-bleached locks.
Pro: No shampooing and conditioning.

Con: Your head gets really shiny when it is hot. sweaty. clean. cold. bored. tired. morning.
Pro: You can wear a hat.

Con: If you have never been bald before, you have a higher risk of sunburn on the top of your head.
Pro: Once your hair grows back, no one will be able to see the freckles and sunspots.

Con: Self-image is temporarily affected.
Pro: When being treated like dirt at a store or on the road, a swift removal of hat or scarf and an angry face serve to make everyone feel guilty and apologetic. Throw in a hacking cough and you're golden.

I think my hair might be starting to grow back. It might also be wishful thinking on my part. I guess I miss my hair; I certainly think about it a lot. But really, I wouldn't mind being bald for a little bit if there wasn't such a stigma attached to it. And yes, in the Midwest, in suburban Chicago, there is a stigma. At a barbeque I went to a while ago, a girl there was talking about her friend who got "a boy haircut." And trust me, the way she said it, her friend had made the worst decision in terms of her personal appearance. I think that if I was in a big city like New York, California, or maybe even downtown Chicago, it wouldn't be such a big deal. But out here in the suburbs, we don't tolerate that kind of crazy behavior. Shaving your head. My goodness, what is the world coming to. So my hair is coming back, although for now I'm still a rebel with or without a cause. Enjoy your tomorrows. Pax.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

So, I should probably clarify.

Just so no one thinks I'm sitting all alone in my bedroom, moping, and feeling sorry for myself. Friday was sort of the culmination of two months worth of unfortunate events for me. Friday itself I spent in an outpatient clinic receiving blood. I then came home to find an e-mail from my doctor telling me that my platelets were still too low to safely begin chemo, and she told me I would have to wait another week to be tested again. Hence, my final round of chemo was pushed back a week, and I lost it a little bit.

I am in a really weird emotional spot right now. I have been consistently in and out of the hospital for the past two months, and I realize now that I had set my expectations way too rigidly in terms of returning to school. For the past seven months, I have learned to live (mostly) day to day. The idea of going back to Boston helped keep me sane, and as my return was further solidified, I became fixated on returning on a certain date. And then when I learned my date had to be extended, I didn't know what to do, really. It's hard when something you look forward to so much is suddenly altered. But you'd think I would have learned by now that you can't put too much trust in the future when the present is so uncertain.

My doctor explained to me in another e-mail that my most recent infection really took a toll on my cells' ability to regenerate, platelets included. Obviously I am disappointed, still. But my despair of Friday has receded quite a bit. One of the main reasons for this, other than that I've had some time to let it sink in, is that over the past few days I have heard from some of my very good friends, as well as from people who don't know me too well. They reminded me that a better world exists outside of this dastardly cancer-infused one, and I absolutely have a place in it. Regardless of when I actually, finally, fly away from Chicago, I will definitely do so in the near future. And then the good times begin in earnest. The next six or seven or eight weeks are still going to be hell for me. You can not fathom how much I want, how much I need this chemotherapy to be finished. But I guess the most important thing I can do, and if anyone wants to help, please do, is to think happy white blood cell thoughts. And just accept that this will end when it ends. Thank you So much to everyone who is helping me get through this. I wouldn't be able to without you. Peace.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Dear Life: Enough of this nonsense.

At one point during my adventures living in Boston, I was the greeter/bag check at a guitar store. Daddy's Junky Music. Right smack across Massachusetts Avenue from Berklee College of Music. The manager "let me go" about three months after I started working there. His excuse was that since it was summertime, no one was buying guitars, and they didn't need me. Okay, fine. I didn't really like the job, and the next week I found a much better one as a bartender. I did, however, meet some ridiculous people while I worked there. Berklee not only attracts great musicians, it also attracts a horde of not-so-great musicians who like to bask in the glory of a school they could never get in to. All of these people, at one point or another, wandered through Daddy's and played the $2000 Gibson Les Paul's and such. Daddy's also rented equipment, so we frequently had crazy deejays and musicians getting stuff for a gig. One evening, there were two guys renting speakers and something else, a mixer maybe? While the one guy was filling out the paperwork, the other guy came and talked to me. Hell if I remember what we talked about, but I know at one point he told me that life is all about "whoever's got the groove and the best attitude." That is a direct quote; I know because I wrote it down. Now, I never saw the man again, and I never will. But I do try to live up to what he said.

I fear that right now I am letting down this crazy, dancing, loud and happy man. My attitude, so fantastically good for the past Seven months, is crashing down around me. My final course of chemotherapy has gotten pushed back another week. I have tried so hard not to complain, and especially not to complain on here, but I am seriously upset now. The terrible thing is this is my fault, not my doctor's. It's my platelets that aren't growing, my white blood cells that are keeping me from doing Anything. So I guess this is the bad part of cancer: the end. Your body is so worn down it doesn't regenerate half as well as it used to. It's hard because the end is So Close! It just keeps getting farther away. I need some motivation to get me through this, and going back to school isn't doing it for me anymore, especially since I don't know when I'll be back. I've lost the groove, and I'm losing my attitude. But I'm going to go eat my Cheerios, which will cheer me up temporarily. Okay. Peace.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A number of important things have happened today.

First off. So, Starbucks increased their prices. By Ten Cents. (nine if you use the average increase the media is tossing around). Honestly, I don't have any money as it is, and now they want me to cough up ten more cents? Dear Corn: I knew I never liked you. Now I really don't like you. Because, of course, this is all corn's fault. Basic economics: when the demand for one staple goes up, it affects the prices of basically everything else in the supermarket. Starbucks, my already overpriced ice cream shop (which is still delicious), and countless other fooderies, I'm sure, are jacking their prices because the price of dairy and wheat and vegetables and groceries in general have all gone up. Yes, ethanol is a good fuel source. But is it worth the tremendous increase in food prices?

Secondly: My financial aid for the upcoming school year was granted! Hoorah! Now I will definitely be able to return to school in the fall, and a major stressball has been eliminated. I have made huge progress with my two papers as well, so that will be another weight off my shoulders soon.

And finally, I went for a walk today. This is important for at least two reasons. One: I feel well enough and have enough energy to walk for half an hour (remember I haven't done much moving for the past three or four weeks). Two: I ran a little bit during the walk. Alright, it was more of a glorified jog, and it was probably less than 100 meters, but nonetheless, it was a solid attempt at running, twice in the thirty minutes. My legs were like, "Wow, yeah, this is awkward," and my lungs were like, "Are you joking?" But I did it, and I eventually cooled off, and at no point did I think I was going to pass out. It's going to be quite a long road to full recovery, but I am pumped for it. At this point, I'm just tired of being sick. Hoh well. Let's get through tomorrow. Happy Tuesday, sad toad.

(cbridges86@gmail.com e-mail me!)

Monday, July 30, 2007

Anybody want to start a band?

Seriously. Anybody. If you have musical talent and want to show the world, call me and we'll get together. At some point in my life, I would like to tour in a band. Whether or not we're any good is unimportant. I just want to sing with people. Maybe bust out my guitar every once in a while. Anyway, that's one of the many things on my To Do Life list. Another one is bike through western Europe. Of course, running a marathon is on there as well, along with a vague rock climbing dream.

Anyway, the reason I mention this is because I am beginning to get my energy back. Which of course means I want to go do things. I will find out tomorrow if my white blood cells have grown back enough so that I can be around people again. It would be nice to have the rest of the week free to frolic... in the...field, um, what? But I also hope my counts are high enough that I can possibly start my chemo early, early being Wednesday as opposed to next Monday. We'll see.

The other good news is that the gears are all grinding away in the process of getting me back to school. I've been in touch with my professors for next semester, and so far there seems to be no major issues with my coming in a little late. I'm getting excited. Not that I haven't been excited about returning to school for the past almost eight months, but now everything is tightening up. My return is still so maddeningly far away, but at least now there are set details and not just a misty longing. Now, if only my hair would start to grow back.... One thing at a time, I guess. Pax.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

What do you mean, the week is over?

Where did it go? I suppose a better question would be, where did the summer go? I can't believe this is the last weekend of July. I have spent the past two months in and out of the hospital. In those two months, I don't think I have been out of the hospital any longer than maybe ten days. Maybe. I'm going for two weeks this time, but apparently I'm neutropenic again, so there are no guarantees. As long as my intestine doesn't decide to free any more e-coli into my bloodstream...

I have spent this past week sleeping, with a very few notable exceptions. One was my interview on Wednesday, which I am currently transcribing. Another is this morning. I've mentioned before that a family friend of ours is running the Chicago Marathon with Team in Training, helping raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Woo! Anyway, so she invited me to come and meet her running group this morning. I rolled myself out of bed at 6 am and headed to the lakefront to say some vaguely inspiring things to a group of people who had just run between 8 and 12 miles. I think I'm more inspired by them though. They pull themselves out of bed every Saturday morning to run extreme distances, not to mention the running they do during the week, while maintaining families and jobs, all for a very good cause. I mean, not too many people do that. I don't think I'll be here for the actual Marathon, but I sure will be cheering them all on.

Otherwise, there's not much. My arms are covered in large bruises and small cuts from peripheral IVs. My platelets are still pretty low, so none of the old bruises are going away, and new ones keep forming. I think I'll just admit I'm a junkie and get it over with. That's sure what it looks like anyway. I find the bruises somewhat amusing, but mostly they annoy me. Maybe one day I'll be normal again. I hope that day comes soon... I'm starting to get worried. Oh well. Peace out.