Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Yesterday I was a pin cushion

I was nervous driving to Boston, but I calmed myself by listening to the news and playing a CD on healing after transplant. I’m sure you’re not supposed to listen to this guided meditation while driving, but I never seem to get around to it at home. I drank strong coffee as I listened, an antidote to sleepiness and also, possibly, to the intended relaxation effect. But it helped me enter the clinic in a positive state of mind.

My counts were, sorry about the pun, a downer. The whites, thanks to the shots, were 2.9, close to normal. But my platelets had fallen to 39, and my hematocrit was 26, close to the point of needing a transfusion; I took the shot instead and we booked time for a transfusion in case I need it next week.

Melissa said not to panic. She’s seen counts drop this way before from a combination of CMV and Valcyte. And I only just tapered off the Valcyte and only just tested negative for the CMV, so it would make sense that my counts would still be reeling.

She suggested a bone marrow biopsy to get a more clear picture of what was going on, including a better reading of the chimerism than what you get from a blood test. She went out to get the procedure room ready, leaving me alone with my thoughts. My mind can be a terrible place to be; I think it took about five seconds for me to write my own ending. When she came back, I asked if they were looking into possible relapse. She reassured me that they did not believe that was the case. My mind also kept jumping to the possibility of graft failure, and I tried to pull it back from the ledge.

Across the hall in the procedure room, I changed the subject before climbing face-down on the table. “Did you see my clogs?” I asked and stuck my foot out for inspection. They were clogs with backs, like the ones she had worn the week before. “I copied you,” I said. As she got ready, we chatted for a couple of minutes about the search for the perfect clogs and about our kids. The bone marrow biopsy was, as usual, not the most pleasant experience, and I felt shaky afterwards. But I’ve had so many that the discomfort is no longer a shock, with makes it easier to tolerate.

After that, I got the shot of Aranesp and made an appointment for next Monday.

Margaret, who was downtown on business, met me for a quick walk. She knows how I think. “You just have to live one day at a time,” she said. “It’s the same for all of us. This day is really all we have.”

She said I should also try hard to stop over-thinking. “Just put your trust in your doctors,” she said. “Picture yourself in the palm of their hand…little Ronni sitting at the beach,” she said, cupping her hand and adding that if I wanted, I could also picture that as God’s hand. “Your knowledge is wide, but it is shallow,” she added. “Theirs is deep.”

Fortified by our visit, I made a quick stop for a touch of retail therapy. I haven’t bought any new furniture for years – probably more than 20 years – and in fact I have the same off-white Danish design couch that I got for my first apartment. I’ve been cleaning out, giving stuff away, and moving furniture around. I haven’t been in a store in ages, and I was gripped by the need browse. I would, of course, wear a mask and not stay too long.

Diane met me at the Chestnut Hill Mall. We were talking about hair when we entered Bloomingdale’s. “I like your hair this way,” she said.

“I think I might need it cut again,” I said. “But then I start thinking, ‘Why bother if I might end up back in the hospital in a few weeks?”

Diane had a great answer. “Don’t go there,” she said. “You’re not there. You’re in Bloomingdale’s.”


Susan C said...

I am still chuckling over the image of you listening to a guided meditation tape while driving to a doctor's appointment and swigging coffee. Sounds like a scene from a Coen brothers movie.

And I can't believe you drove yourself home after the BMB.

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you have friends who not only distract you from your active imagination, but have amazing words to live by too. I need more friends like that!


PJ said...

You are one tough cookie. I always take an ativan before bmb's, which disqualifies me for driving. Probably for shopping, too, although maybe the price tags would seem more acceptable.

Hang in there. This is a difficult situation to be in, but try to stay positive. And hang out with friends like Margaret and Diane this weekend. They'll keep you grounded.