Thursday, September 16, 2010

Tennis nut cracks

My visit to Dana-Farber Monday was great.

Dr. Alyea came in talking about tennis, so I knew I was OK. He said he was very pleased with my counts and said that my liver and kidney functions were better, and my potassium and sodium were normal. He dropped my prednisone from 10 mgs. a day to 7.5. The numbers:

WBC: 6.0 (normal = 3.8-9.2)
Hematocrit: 28.8, up from 25 three weeks ago (normal=34.8-43.6)
Platelets: 93 (normal=155-410)

When you look at the normal range, except for the white count I obviously have a ways to go. But I am going in the right direction, which is good. My platelets were up 3 from the last visit. Yippee! I'll take whatever I can get. As a bonus, that number of platelets enables me to get my teeth filled. Sigh.

I headed straight home (OK, I stopped at Starbucks), to catch the U.S. Open men's final, which had been rained out the day before. After some trouble finding the right channel, I saw Rafael Nadal beat Novak Djokovic 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4.

I had been running around for nearly a week, spending several days with Katie and getting to see Ben. Then I was back home, where it was just me and the dog. I stalled. I wasn't happy. I told myself that I don't have to be happy. I can just sit with the feelings and breathe, and over time I'll get used to it.

Or I can take a tennis lesson, which I did yesterday morning with George, sharing the two hours with a woman named Susan. I always get worse after watching the pros. I notice how their feet are always moving, and how thoroughly they follow through. Not kidding myself that I can be like them, I still try to take something away from watching them. Then I start to think about it too much, which of course is counterproductive.

Sue ran all over the court, like I used to do. I am still trying to get from three steps to four. When it was time to pick up balls, she bounced around. I used my racquet as a cane as I bent over.

George said she is a runner whose tennis game came later.

"Sue is a work-in-progress," he said.

"I guess that makes me a stalled work looking for a jump start," I said. "But we're all works-in-progress, aren't we?"

George agreed that he was too.

I know that, but I when my strokes were off yesterday, I was discouraged. I know what to do, but my body just can't do it. (Hey, sometimes we all say that, even in perfect health.)

George and I hit against Sue, and I asked if he thought I was able to take a turn by myself. "Maybe next time," he said.

It reminded me of when I was lying in my hospital bed, unable to walk, and I looked out into the corridor and watched a patient plod up and down. I asked my nurse if she thought I could do that, and she said, "Sometime soon."

I walked again. I can run and play tennis again.

I told Diane I was upset about my tennis game.

"What, you want to be Rafael Nadal?" she asked.

Diane reminded me that a little more than a year ago, I was being wheeled out of the hospital after nearly dying. "This is what you hoped for, to be complaining about your tennis game," she said.

It's so true. I could use some lessons in patience.


pam said...

Hear Ye! Alyea! HURRAH! Runder-Tennisist! "tennis: Anglo-French, c. 1480, tenetz: Hold, Receive Take!"

Be Patient! Keep on Holding, Receiving, taking, and enjoying every step of your improvement.

To quote your wonderful Father,"Serve them up!" and i will add: and then ****$$$$$!

Jim said...

Nice report and glad you are whacking that tennis ball, RG! Jim

Nelle said...

Congratulations on those great counts! You have come so very far and I am sure you will get where you want to go. I still struggle to breathe when walking fast and I get so impatient. It's just human nature to want to fast forward to the good stuff. :)

Ann said...

I get frustrated, too. It's all part of the process and I'm constantly reminding myself of the things I couldn't do recently. You'll be ricocheting around the court before you know it and the frustration will be a distant memory.

Wendy S. Harpham, MD said...

So many wonderful ideas in this post:

"I told myself that I don't have to be happy." It matters less what you feel than what you do with what you feel. At that moment, you had good reasons not to be happy. And did you wallow, sinking deeper and deeper into unhappiness? No! You took a tennis lesson.

"I still try to take something away from watching them." This is your testimony to your sense of hope of continued improvement. After achievement, happiness can come from dissatisfaction with where you are and efforts to get to an even better place.

"Sue is a work in progress." Last May I wrote a blog post with this title:

Lastly, every time I read your blog, I keep in mind where you were a year or more ago and how far you come. Complaining about your tennis game? Music to my ears.

With hope, Wendy