Friday, June 22, 2007

Ya'll know what I'm talking about.

Or at least, you should if you've been reading my blog. If this is the first time you've ever bothered across my ramblings, then you probably have no idea what I'm talking about. So here's the dealio: I have two months (ish) left of chemotherapy!! Honestly, I am pretty sure that September is never going to arrive. It's almost July; summer is almost one-third over. For some, the next two months will fly. For me, I have no doubt they will take way too long. I do hope, however, to spend as much of the next three months as possible at home. I have found it is much easier, and even healthier, to waste time in my house, as opposed to in the hospital. Case in point: I was discharged three days ago. In those three short days, my appetite has returned, my general "ill" feeling has disappeared, and I am gradually building up my strength. Today I think I walked between a mile and a half and two miles, and I was carrying my camera. And that's not counting all the times I ran up and down the stairs in my house, searching for my glasses or the phone or my book... The very good news is that I have yet to fall on my face on the stairs again. So progress has definitely been made!

And now for one of my cancer-induced observations that most people don't think about. So, last week my friend and I were discussing bald heads. She told me that she had seen one of the administrators from BU who is bald, and his head was extremely shiny. She said she thought he might have oiled it. I thought, "Perhaps," but my sentiment was that the man might have just had a greasy head -- I believe "glistening" was the term I used. It has now been over a week since I shaved my head, and I have an update for my friend: my head is shiny. Not overly, blind you in the sun, shiny, but shiny nonetheless. I have a few hypotheses as to why. One is that a clean scalp is a shiny scalp. Two is that our heads all naturally excrete oils, which is why we wash our hair. The difference is I don't have hair. And finally, our heads also sweat, which produces a healthy glisten. So perhaps the administrator was just sweating. Anyway, the next time you see a shiny bald man, don't automatically assume he oils his scalp on purpose.

Finally, one last little thing. You may have noticed there is a new picture of me over on the right. I took that a few days before they shaved my head, when I still had a decent amount of hair. I had enough for a faux-hawk anyway. That's how much had grown back. Also, you may have noticed the little white things sticking out of my chest. Those are my tubes, sometimes referred to as my catheter. Notice how you can see the tube go over my collarbone and down into my innards. Good stuff. And if you're curious, I was in my hospital room, looking at the children's hospital that was across from me. Now, the hair's gone, the tubes are still there, and I am definitely home. That's about it from me for now. Have a splendid weekend. Pax.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

On going home... Again

Fortunately, or un, I didn't set any new records with this most recent hospital stay. I was in the hospital for about 16 days, four days short of the 20 I was in the first time. But they let me out today! My white blood cell count hopped up to 1.0, and my ANC was 850, as of 6:00 pm last night. ANC stands for absolute neutrophil count. Neutrophils are one type of white blood cells (there are a lot), specifically the ones that fight most nasty little infections. They also determine neutropenia, whch is when your neutrophil count falls below 500. The ANC is really the main determinant for when patients' white cells are showing significant growth. So I'm out, and I'm not neutropenic anymore! You'd better believe the first thing I ate when I got home was a sandwich with tomatoes on it. Mmm, tomatoes. My life is now substantially better.

It is always somewhat of a shock when I get out of the hospital and am reminded that the world kept doing its thing while I was on lock-down. The same thing happened back in January. When I am in the hospital, I have no conception of the weather outside, no means of gaging how the seasons are changing. In January, it might have been 75 degrees or 10, for all I knew. And these past two weeks, I had no idea it was sweltering hot outside -- besides from hearing people gripe about it. I mostly just listened to how I missed a huge heatwave, and wasn't I lucky? Sure, luck; that's what it's called. But there is a mildly acceptable upside: while I've missed over two weeks of sunshine and fresh air, I have also missed the peak of the cicada season. They were extremely noisy when I went in to the hospital, and apparently, they got louder while I was in my confinement. But now, they are much quieter. True, they are now dying all over the place, which is almost as annoying, but they are finally disappearing. It's just strange that they were living, and now they are dying. Everything kept on keeping on while I remained somewhat stagnant. Basically, being stuck inside for so long means that when I finally am released, I appreciate the beauty and mutability of the Outside so much more. Warm breezes ruffling my not-hair, sun burning into my pasty skin, bugs whining and falling and getting crushed underfoot... It's all summer, and it wasn't here two weeks ago. We take it for granted, even curse the heat and humidity and decaying cicada corpses, but really, no one's ever satisfied. It's mostly all we can ask that every once in a while we remember how lucky we are to be stuck in the middle of life and growth and movement. So I am extremely happy and relieved to finally be home and in my own bedroom. We'll see what tomorrow brings; I have a lot of strength to gain back. Otherwise, stop taking summer for granted. Go outside and enjoy the sun while it's around. I sure will be. Peace.