Thursday, March 8, 2007

I feel pretty...... oh so pretty........

Not really actually. I feel more like a bum, and most of the bums I've seen aren't all that attractive. I am literally on lock-down. There was an upper-respiratory illness going around, and I think the flu was making rounds too. So the floor is pretty much closed off. It's sad, but it makes sense. Most of the people on my floor are immuno-suppressed, and even the smallest infection becomes a serious issue. My doctor told me that a similar respiratory infection went around, I'm not sure if it was this hospital or another, and people died. They're not taking any chances here, which is fine with me if it means I'm not going to die of the flu. Because that would be rather unfortunate.

In other news, it is three months to the day that I was diagnosed with leukemia. "A retrospective," you say? Well, I don't know... Maybe one in brief (remember that "brief" is a relative term). I can't believe it's already been three months. That's 1/4 of my year. (Yes, I excel in the higher mathematics.) It's still somewhat surreal for me. Everything happened so quickly. I was diagnosed, and then less than one week later I was admitted to the hospital here in Chicago to begin treatment. I haven't really had too many of the typical chemotherapy side effects. Strangely, I actually do still have some hair left, but it's quite thin. I don't even know what I've done with myself these past three months. I keep looking to my future, it's what gets me through this, but aside from that, I am mostly just living day-to-day. It's the only way to do it. I'm never certain how I'll feel on any given day, so all I can do is just take each day as it comes my way. It's important to look forward to the future, but if you don't live in the present, you'll miss something. I feel like it's more important than ever for me to live in the present right now, because my present actions and current thoughts are what will make me well again. I've also realized that it is terribly important not to dwell too much on the past. What happened, happened. We can't change that. We can just learn from it and move on. I have also never been so appreciative of what it means to be healthy. I know it's cliche, but the saying that we never really appreciate something until it's gone holds some truth. Just the ability to walk around without feeling tired, or being able to lift a heavy backpack without a second thought... Haha, standing up without blacking out. Those are small and seemingly insignificant parts of life, but to me, they mean a lot more now. I would kill to be able to run one mile again. Just one! I wish there was some way I could make everyone understand how lucky they are living their days. To be a college student, to become exhausted from staying up too late studying for exams, or staying up too late with friends, watching basketball or playing video games. And yet, they can get a few extra days of sleep over break, or on the weekends, and be back to whatever "normal" is these days. I never realized how dead I was in the month or two before my diagnosis. One of the things I am most looking forward to when all this is finished is to be making my own healthy blood again. Just to know that my body is working as it should be and that I'll feel "normal" again after some sleep, as opposed to after they transfuse a few packs of blood.

Otherwise, I don't know. I've written a lot of poetry, I've taken a lot of pictures. I'm going to try "arting," although I don't know how well that will go. I've realized how much my friends mean to me, how they can lift my spirits with a silly comment from far away. All that fun stuff. Well, I'll truncate my blathering for now. Don't worry, I'm sure more will come in the future. But otherwise, I don't know, happy anniversary? If I had a stein of beer and wasn't in the hospital, I'd make a toast or something. As it is, I raise my Ginger Ale. Pax.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

And it's back to Rice Krispies deliciousness for me.

It didn't take very long for my appetite to self-destruct this time, but self-destruct it has. Yesterday, my mom brought me a sandwich for lunch, home-made and wonderful. Today, one day later, she brought me the exact same sandwich, and I could barely eat half of it. It just didn't taste right at all. I couldn't even stomach the goat cheese, which is one of my definite cheesy vices. So I ordered Rice Krispies and Corn Flakes, and they are proudly holding their own. Otherwise, I'm finished with the chemo for now. I should be getting a drug pretty soon that will counteract the effects of the chemo and help the chemicals leave my system quickly. The doctors are predicting that I should be out of here by Saturday. And then I have a full nine or ten days off until I have to come back to the hospital to repeat this whole session again. Woo.

In other news, this little (b)log of mine was recognized by one of the websites that BU maintains to keep the community updated on the goings ons of students, faculty and staff. I found their contest, "Show us your blogs," a while ago and decided to submit mine. I guess they liked it, even if it is lacking in the multi-media and technologically-sweet departments. Here's the link with the story: I also won a $25 gift certificate to our school's computer store. Rock on. I can now buy an eighth of an i-pod. Sweet! So life is good and exciting. And other than the appetite bit, I've had no side-effects so far from this current onslaught of chemo, which is always fantastic. Alright, take care everyone who is allowed to leave their rooms. I.e., go outside for me. I'm on lock-down. K, thanks, love ya, bye. Peace.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

I am spinal tap.ped. Again.

Hello....Cleveland! etc, etc. Except that today's lumbar puncture was almost as painful for me as watching that movie. I apologize for freaking or grossing anybody out. But the doctor's had quite a bit of trouble getting fluid out of my back. My back was straight, but I guess my hips were slightly crooked, and they threw everything off. If your body isn't completely aligned, apparently it's very easy to hit a nerve which then sends shoots of electric-shock type pain down your leg. For me, it was the right leg. Good times. Actually, it was kind of funny when my foot started twitching. Not something I expected. But eventually we figured out my ill-aligned hips, put a footstool under my feet, they went in with the needle, easily drew out the fluid, and replaced it with the methotrexate drug. Although, this was after much pain and consternation, and I know have fun new holes down my spine. And all of this was only one small part of my day!

Really, my day of treatment began at 2:00 this morning when the nurse came in and hooked me up to a hydration pack with sodium bicarbonate mixed in. The point of that is to make sure that my urine pH stays around 7 to counteract the acidity of the chemo. They hydro pack finished at 6, and they gave me my 7 anti-nausea pills and one drip. At 8, they gave me a few more pills and vincristine, a fifteen minute infusion of chemo. 9:00 am and the IV methotrexate, over three hours. And then at 12:00, the spinal tap, which I've already discussed. After that, my back hurt like hell. They couldn't give me Tylenol because of its effects on my kidney, so I got a couple mgs of morphine. Woo, first experience with morphine! Sadly, it really didn't do much. My back stopped hurting, but no hallucinations or the like. Sorry kids. Otherwise, I've pretty much spent the rest of the day sleeping. The nurses still do rounds every four hours, and coupled with intermittent visits by the various doctors, it's difficult to sleep much during the night. Oh well. I'll be out of here soon, which is always exciting and nice to look forward to.

The other really freaking awesome news is that Dave Matthews is guest-starring on House tonight. I like Dave Matthews. A lot. I actually found a hand-written list from when I was about 10, okay, I was closer to 14, of guys I wanted to marry. I'm pretty sure Dave was at the top of the list. Good times. Good, embarrassing times. Alright, well, that's about it for me for now. No more major chemo. Mostly, the next few days are to monitor me and make sure that the levels of chemo go down enough so they are no longer toxic. Well, everyone loves a long Caroline post, but I'll finish now. And... Damn it sad toad, you had better have a happy Tuesday! Alright, pax.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Half of the sky is orange; the other half is purple.

It is still blue overhead. It seems that no matter where I go, I will always be (somewhat) a midwest girl at heart. I am in love with the sunsets here. I've seen beautiful sunsets in Canada, Florida, France, Puerto Rico, etc. And yet I am always blown away by the beautiful simplicity of the sunsets here. I'm sure an important factor is the amount of pollution in the air here, but I try not to think about that too much. The whole tone of the world outside changes. Buildings' edges are slightly blurred, red bricks blending with the purple hues of the horizon. Windows glinting gold through trees and across lakes. And although I can't see the sun from where I am, I know it's all gold and melted butter-y, doing it's fusion thing as we rotate away from it.

Here I am, back in the hospital. I am actually in the room right next to the one I was in last time. And I have the same nurse who checked me in the first time too. I suppose that's apt for my situation: small changes are being made while other things stay the same. I found out yesterday that, once again, the doctors found no trace of leukemia in my marrow. That's exciting; it hasn't recurred or anything. So, I've realized a major difference between being here and being at my house, beyond the expected changes. When I'm at home, especially on days when I feel normal, I feel like a bum, like I should be doing something with myself. Cancer is nowhere near the forefront of my mind. Yet when I'm in the hospital, I can't help but remember that I'm being treated for leukemia. There is no way to not think about it. The hospital rooms scream "sick" with their white walls and dingy chairs. There's a scale across from my bed, along with an orange piece of paper that has printed on it, "I AM NOT A PIN CUSHION SO PLEASE STOP STICKING NEEDLES INTO ME" I think it's supposed to provide a little comic relief for people who otherwise may have little to laugh at. I find it just weird. It's not funny, and their line breaks are freaking out my poetic inclinations. And there's the "Help Prevent Falls Tips for patient's and families" poster. Punctuation is as I see it. Oh, and over there is the "Faces Pain Rating Scale" green poster. That one is my favorite. Six faces, rated zero to five, from super happy to extremely upset for those of us who are in too much pain or happiness to say so and can only point to a MS Paint-ed face. Ah, good times in the hospital. Tomorrow, I receive a massive onslaught of chemo; should be a fun time. Always is. But enough about me. I'll update more tomorrow about the chemo and the procedures and, of course, more on my hospital adventures. Goodnight moon. Which, actually, I can't see from here anyway, but I know he's there. Peace.