Monday, August 8, 2016

The time I went downhill fast and got back up

With Tami & Nancy in 2008
If you are of the opinion "don't go there" by revisiting a terrible experience, then don't read this, but doing it from time to time puts the present in perspective. I went back and found some old posts that contain a lot about crashing blood counts, so here's a warning that it's not a fun read.

But it comes from the perspective of things being good now, nearly eight years after the events chronicled: of George telling me at our tennis lesson yesterday that my balance is better than ever and of me looking at flowers from the garden in a vase on my kitchen table as I write and listening to Maddie snoring after the walk we just took around the lake.

In any case since I was just at Candlewood Lake, I was curious to see what had exactly happened the last time I went. As I found in this post from Nov. 14, 2008, everything was fine and I even went for a little jog. I wrote about how it poured one time but it didn't matter because we were happy just talking, and how the next day it was beautiful and we walked up the hill and talked to the horses. I was still recovering from my third stem cell transplant less than six months before and was not feeling too perky. I wrote that I asked Tami if she felt winded when going up the hill (she said yes) and then I added, "If I feel that I'm more tired than usual, I begin to wonder if I am getting sick in a little or big way."

Emily had to stay in Pittsburgh to work, so it was Tami, Nancy and me. Check out the crazy hair. Coincidentally Ben was in Pittsburgh and stayed with "Auntie Em."

In those days I reported my blood counts all the time. So on Nov. 24 I wrote a post headlined Good news Monday and said that my white count (4.9) and platelets (164) were normal, though my hematocrit (28.4) was slow coming back.

Although looking at it now I see that the white count was at the lowest number for normal. I then tested positive for CMV, a virus that plagued me on and off and against which I'm still on a preventative which I'll stay on as long as I'm on prednisone, which may be for the duration.

Tennis team dinner
I reported having fun at a tennis team dinner shortly afterwards and then wrote about a checkup that occurred approximately six months after that third transplant. I asked my social worker, Mary Lou Hackett, if I could possibly be hit by the same bus twice; I was trying to get encouragement about the fact that my counts had dropped precipitously: white, 1.4; platelets, 27; hematocrit slightly higher at 25.2 than it would have been because I had had a transfusion the week before. She probably knew I was relapsing because couldn't give me an answer. To see how far my numbers were below normal, click here.

On Dec. 25 I wrote that I was devastated to have relapsed again. It was downhill all the way. I was buoyed by all the comments, words of support and encouragement from so many people, telling me I was a fighter, they believed in my tenacity, reminding me to breathe. I have no idea why in 2008 when writing about the vicissitudes of fate I had suicide bombers on my mind, but this is what I said.

I did live to see the day.
One minute the marketplace is full of lively people. The next minute it is devastated, blown up by a suicide bomber. I have been crying a lot, picturing myself at the end of the road. Thinking I won’t see my children finish growing up, won’t see my grandchildren. I guess this is my mind’s way of going through the mourning process; I hope to get to the acceptance phase soon. I wandered over to 6A (my home for the last transplant) from 6C (where I am now). Myra, a wise, funny nurse, who's been doing transplants for ages, knew what had happened. “Well, you have 48 hours to have your pity party, then you have to quit it and put on your fighting gloves,” she said.

Everyone's words and Myra's advice helped me get through. And here we are. As my father liked to say, all is well. 🌻🌹🌷🌼

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