Sunday, August 7, 2016

Revisiting old memories, making new ones

Early morning, Candlewood Lake
I've been getting around.

As previously stated, it sometimes wears on me to go to Dana-Farber so much for what I could call maintenance, but once I get there it is usually fine. Wednesday I drove myself to the Kraft Family Blood Donor Center for ECP because I couldn't handle the things that could go wrong if I tried to coordinate service to Margaret's, where I was staying the night, and then back to Dana-Farber Thursday for a checkup with Melissa. Plus my appointment was at 9, and, judging from a year ago when I had to take The Ride, they might have picked me up at the crack of dawn.

Someone had brought in ice cream and so we had a little party. There were only three patients; a man to my left and a woman to my right. I hadn't met the man and could hardly see him because the equipment was in the way, but when Tina introduced us he called over, "Don't you remember that we already met and I lent you $20?" I said, "No, I lent you $50," and thus we bantered back and forth while the woman on my right smiled and went back to her book.

I told Ellen (the PA) that my abdomen was still extended more than I thought it should be, and she said the skin was soft and that it was not graft vs. host but just my body changing shape. In other words, putting on weight in that area.

The next day, Melissa said that what I am feeling on my abdomen is actually a subcutaneous layer of graft vs. host. Due to that and the still dimpled consistency of the skin on my thighs, I need to keep at it every other week. I had already seen my blood counts the day before because Tina drew my labs before the light treatment. I knew that they were fine. I don't hold my breath any more, but all those times when I did are engraved in my memory.

Friends 4 Ever
After that I drove some three hours to Candlewood Lake to enjoy two perfect days of fun and good food with our high school friend Tami and her sister at the house where we have been going on and off since eighth grade. We took a beautiful three-mile walk through farmland, went down to the lake and read and went for a swim, had cocktails and dinner on the deck, and talked about this and that.

One of the "thats" is the fact that I was relapsing the last two times I was there, in 2007 and again in 2008. I mentioned it when I got there; and maybe thinking about it was the reason I didn't follow my directions at the very end and took a wrong turn and got so discombobulated that Tami finally came out and found me actually heading in the right direction a couple of miles away. Or maybe it is because it is my habit to take a wrong turn because I did it the last time or maybe it's because I've done it before at other times because I get distracted. But to my credit I kept in mind that most accidents happen close to your destination, so I was super careful when turning around a couple of times to get back on track.

I said, "The third time is the charm," meaning I wasn't worried that going there meant relapsing. I did have to point out that it was just about the same weekend in August 2007 when I had played and won with Korby at The Districts in Connecticut, earning me my short-lived bump to 3.5, and had stopped by their lake house and said to Tami's brother, a doctor, that I was waiting results of a bone marrow biopsy after a suspiciously low white blood count. I asked if he thought there was reason to suspect that I was relapsing nearly four years after my autologous stem cell transplant, and of course he couldn't answer, and of course I was.

Anyway...It was hard to leave but I had to take heed of the sign that is among the many interesting things in the house that their father, Sidney Shelov, an architect. designed and had built built in 1957 around an the base of old fishing cabin.

Nell, yesterday
And I was looking forward to my next stop: visiting Ben, Meghan and Nell. After fueling myself with Starbucks and my car with gas, I drove along some pretty roads in Litchfield County for a little more than an hour, with a brief part of the drive on the highway, to have lunch with them at the Harborview Market in the Black Rock area of Bridgeport. It was too hot for poor Nell, whose little face got flushed; we were going to take a walk but went back and played with her a little, where she was much happier in her air-conditioned house. Then we exchanged Meg and Nell for Webster and went back for a walk along the water, where I inhaled the air and wished that I could bottle it along with the view of water and boats.

After the hour and three-quarter drive back and a stop at Jim and Jane's to pick up Maddie, I was tentatively supposed to meet the Pios and their friends in Northampton and go to The New Century Theater. But I was too tired. So I came back home and started to unpack, watered the wilting flowers and pulled some of the rampant weeds, went through mail and started to adjust to reality, which is not so bad either because this morning I had a tennis lesson with George. And I know my dog is happy with her second family but I miss her when I'm away for so long.

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