Friday, March 26, 2010

March Madness

This month has been a mixed bag, kind of like our weather lately. Of the past 26 days, I've been in the hospital 16 of them, and I'm still here. I'm waiting for my neutrophils (a type of white blood cell) to go up -- which is like waiting for grass to grow -- and when they do, I can go home.

It took about twice as long for my immune system to recover from the second consolidation treatment earlier this month, even though I received 40% less chemo. This, I learned, is because my bone marrow took a permanent hit from the chemo I received 10 years ago (the completely unnecessary chemo that probably caused this leukemia in the first place -- but I'm not bitter).

This month, my counts crashed around the 15th, and because I had a bad head cold, Dr. Forte admitted me to the hospital, knowing that the cold was likely to cause some offshoot infection. I was in the hospital for 5 days, and after my head cold got better and I wasn't sick with anything, I was released last Saturday. After enjoying a night at home with Sadie and a little of that awesome weather, I got really sick on Sunday and drove back to the ER. I had a fever, chills and that terrible bone pain that I get when my bone marrow is empty. Like a bad rerun, I had an infection in my stomach that went into my bloodstream and I was back on IV antibiotics faster than you can say "morphine, please."

[By the way, I think I hit on the over-the-counter trifecta for head colds. If Zicam, Tylenol Sinus and Mucinex, taken religiously, can help me get over a head cold when I have no immune system, they get my vote.]

Because it's taking longer to recover with less chemo, the treatment plan has changed. I'll have another biopsy in a couple of weeks, when there's something substantial to look at, and if I'm still in complete remission, we'll call it quits on the chemo. (Sweet!) Then we will re-test in a month, and if things are still good, I will be finished with treatment, having achieved the best possible outcome. (More than sweet!) If there is any sign of the inverted 16 chromosome, the leukemia marker, then I'll have one more treatment with even less chemo than last time. The danger is that my bone marrow may never completely recover. But that's not going to happen. If there was no sign of inversion 16 in December, and I've had two aggressive treatments since then, I think it's safe to assume that this ride may finally be coming to a stop. Of course we won't know that for sure until we get the results of the second biopsy, probably sometime in late May.

In the meantime, I'm willing my neutrophils to bounce back, cautiously optimistic that this is may be my very last hospital stay. Since October, I've been in the hospital for a total of almost 3 months. But it's not as bad as it could have been -- not by a long shot. I'm happy that it's Spring. It's like a clean start. Last Fall was one big dark blur, and Winter was stormy in so many ways. I look forward to getting my strength back and appreciating all that Spring has to offer. It's a time of growth, renewal, beauty, community and, as always, gratitude for countless blessings, including all of you.

Happy Spring!



1 comment:

  1. You remain radiant, resiliant and remarkable.
    I think about you often.

    Peter Skolnik


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