Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Playing tennis with CMV on my mind

Yesterday I checked in with Melissa to see if the test for CMV was back, in hopes that it would be gone and I could start tapering the Valcyte, the probable culprit in lowering my counts last week.

The CMV was the same. She said I should come in this week to have my counts tested instead of going onto the two-week plan. So, I go on Thursday.

My mind went in a bad direction. I looked up CMV again (I’m not sure why, because I already had looked it up) and saw that it can cause disease and even death in immune suppressed people. Post-transplant patients and people with AIDS represent the highest risk. CMV can also lead to eye infections, which, if they get out of hand, can lead to blindness. I hope nobody with CMV reads this and gets freaked out, because I assume that most cases, when caught early like mine, lead to nothing but a little diarrhea and inconvenience.

This is where the Internet does not come in handy. If you look up pneumonia, you will learn that it might kill you...but in most cases it probably won't. Look up anything and trace it to its worst-case-scenario, and depending on your mood and vulnerability at that moment, you will either dismiss it or get paranoid.

After I talked to Melissa, darkness fell and the night goblins came out. I almost called my good friend Vytas, who had been one of my nurses at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and who has fielded many of my questions over the years. I wanted to ask, “Do you think I’ll go blind?” I felt like I would sound crazy, so instead, I finished the conversation in my mind. “Helllooooooo,” said Vytas-in-my-mind. “No, you are not going to go blind.”

Instead, I treated myself to countless Oreos and half an Ativan.

In the light of day, everything seemed better. I had my Tuesday morning tennis lesson with George, who is an incredibly talented teacher and a hoot.

After initially resisting the forehand loop last week, I had looked it up on the Internet, watched a video, read the instructions and became convinced. I did it almost every time. George beamed. “You’ve reprogrammed yourself,” he said. “I’ve put another looper out there.”

Would that we could reprogram some thought patterns so easily.

We then worked on my backhand volley.
“Hold your left hand on your racquet until the last minute,” he said. “If you let it go too soon, it’s like you’ve let go of a child’s hand and you don’t know where he’s going to run off to.”

Keep both hands on until just the right time, he said, “until one hand says to the other, you’re ready to go.”

I love the way he puts things.

Then he said he wanted to show me something new on my backhand groundstroke. (I have a one-hander.)

He came over to my side of the net and demonstrated…a backhand circle! I thought I had put in my dues with the forehand.

George said that if I wanted to advance to the next level, the backhand loop was the way to go. And he said I showed that if I could do the forehand, I could do it on the other side. “Go on the Internet and watch Roger Federer do it," he said.

We tried about a dozen. Some went over, some did not. It felt weird.

“It’s hurting my brain,” I said.

George looked at me quizzically. “Nobody ever said that to me,” he said.

I guess that makes me unique. In any case, I had changed from the CMV channel to the tennis channel.


Diane G said...

I see some connection here between the hands on the firm racket and the support team you have at DFCI...maybe they are holding you and you should have confidence that they won't let go until you are ready.

Ann said...

In most situations like this, the internet is not your friend. The doctors have plans in place for the boogeymen. Stay vigilant and focus on the important things, like living. The tennis lessons sound exhausting. As always, you amaze and inspire me.

Anonymous said...

You're the first looper I know! As long as you don't make yourself loopy with scary thoughts! I'm glad you're going to have things checked out again today, I would hate to wait 2 weeks if something was on my mind...


Carol said...

So incredibly good to see you this evening with Maddie. Even better that fate put me walking with my niece Ann and see you coming towards us. Always thinking about you when I pull up to meet with Ann and other friends, to take our walks. Same in some ways, like you, a process to sort things out and share with people we care about. Your story is moving, uplifting and more than that, reality for so many.
We are both survivors and fighters, in our separate ways.