Saturday, June 13, 2020

The places I went: Canoe Club and dentist

Canoe Club courts
I couldn't decide if I was going to go running or go to tennis on Wednesday so I did what we used to do in the newsroom: shout out a question and take the advice of the person nearest you. In this case it was the construction guys. I had my running shoes and my tennis shoes and they said to go to tennis. So off I went.

Seriously though I had asked my nurse practitioner and she said it is unlikely that the virus will travel on a tennis ball. Still, the USTA guidelines from May say to: "Use your racquet/foot to pick up balls and hit them to your opponent. Avoid using your hands to pick up the balls." I said that to George and he said you don't have to touch a ball. Guess what? It's really hard to not touch a ball. I was never good at that move where you pick the ball up with your foot and racquet by bouncing it on the ground. I touched balls but didn't touch my face and used hand sanitizer in breaks. I think those guidelines came from the period when people were more worried about the virus sticking to a surface.

Canoe Club
There were five of us plus George. It was good to see friends that I had missed. I think it was OK. We stayed far enough apart from each other. You're not really supposed to congregate. In breaks, though, everyone just drifted to the usual spots in chairs around a table. I started to sit down but pulled a chair out. At one point, when we were doing a three on three drill, someone on my side rushed to the net and told the other two to come on up. I said I would just stay back, remembering the distance idea. She said we would still be far enough apart. I stayed back.

I had my third visit to the dentist. This time, unlike the previous times, there were people in the waiting room. Alternate seats were blocked off, and people were wearing I think it was OK, but afterwards I had a little freakout. Not a good time to have OCD.

I got there on time and expected to go in on time so as to minimize time around others. Later I talked to other people who said their dentist had them wait in the car until it was time. I would have left and gone outside except that I kept expecting to get called in. I waited 20 minutes.  I don't have any upcoming appointments, but for my next one, I'll ask to wait outside.

Still, routine care is going to continue happening, and not all offices are going to be able to have people wait outside. Later in the month, I'm going back to Dana-Farber, for a checkup and to meet my new doctor. I'm going to need to get blood work. They are not going to tell a whole bunch of people, some of them sick, to go wait on the street.

House work
My dentist has opinions. Actually, I think since he has been with me through everything, he cares about me. He said that I have lost too much muscle mass and I should go eat some protein! He said to go eat a steak. I don't do that very often. I don't weigh myself often, either, but I do think I have lost weight, due to the running. I am doing weight-lifting classes through the Y, especially the Livestrong classes twice a week, plus yoga, so I thought I was taking care of my upper body. It's not something I have been great at over the years during times when I've been running a lot.

 I went to Boyfriend's house and asked for protein. He made me some eggs. At home I tried making a smoothie with green stuff, protein powder, and fruit. It doesn't sound that hard, but for some reason I mess up my smoothies.

Here's something I wrote about all the side effects of my transplants. They actually call these after effects because side effects are talked about more in terms of more immediate reactions.

I'm happy to say that work is finally continuing on the house.

Local strawberries are here. Yay! I remember when they were one of the last things I was allowed to eat, after my transplants. Of course I had to write about it. I don't know if they are going to do strawberry picking this year. I have sweet memories of doing it with the kids. I think I might have liked it more than they did...but they seemed to be having a good time.

And to think this guy is a father now

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Thinking about good luck, bad luck, and risks

Flowers from the garden
Here's a story that hit a nerve.

Finding, and Curing, Cancers May Be Another Casualty of Coronavirus, begins, "Our leukemia team just cared for a young woman who had gone to a hospital 50 miles from ours because she wasn’t feeling well. She had delayed seeing a doctor for weeks, fearing that emergency rooms and urgent care clinics were akin to Covid hot zones. She didn’t want to catch the coronavirus if she didn’t already have it.

Some of the symptoms she had — fever, cough, fatigue — are also symptoms of having leukemia. They can also be confused with a coronavirus infection. But because of the pandemic, instead of having blood counts drawn, which are the first clue to detecting underlying leukemia, the well-intended emergency room staff tested her for Covid-19 and admitted her to a “Covid rule-out” unit within their hospital."

From the headline, or the "hed," as we say in the news biz, you can see where this is going. She did have leukemia, and by the time they caught it, it was too late, and she died.

For obvious reasons, this story resonated with me. First of course, I was so sad to hear she didn't make it. Second, I knew that the same thing could have happened to me. I didn't even have fever and cough, just extreme fatigue after that Saint Patrick's Road Race. If it had happened now, I wouldn't have gone to the doctor, and my leukemia very likely would have progressed like this young woman's did.

I was lucky.

I have been super careful to stay out of the virus' way, and I don't want to try my luck by doing anything that I shouldn't do, going forward. But it is not that easy to know exactly what to do. Last week I knew I wasn't going to stay out of stores forever. So I went briefly into Atkins. It was fine.
But am I going to play doubles? It is outside, so that is good, but it means opening up my circle. I miss my friends and want to do it. In an email, Melissa said the risk is low but not nothing. I am going to hold off for now. I know I get enough exercise, but that's not what it's about.

Plant salon
For the fall issue of Chicago Health Magazine, I'm writing a story about cancer patients and COVID-19 as society reopens. I asked one doctor which patients are most at risk. He said the list includes stem cell transplant recipients, whose cells have been manipulated in a crazy way.

Obviously those in the first year "out" are at highest risk. I wanted to know, where is the cutoff? (Subtext: What about ME?) The doctor couldn't say. I assume the risk is lower the further away you are. Eleven years isn't bad, but it is something.

Ways of trying not to dwell on this too much today included cutting flowers from the garden, weeding, and giving my inside plants a trim. I figured that with people going back to salons, it was a good day for a plant salon. My friend Bubbe watched.