Thursday, April 28, 2011

The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak (Matthew 26:41)

Although I face no moral dilemma, as the title of this post might suggest, the phrase still applies, in a literal sense.  As I approach my 6 month birthday with my new immune system, I get a little frustrated that my flesh is still weak.  I honestly didn't expect for it to take this long to begin to feel better.  I'm not talking about feeling good, just better.  Here's the rundown:

Not So Happy Events
1.  Around the time of my last post, I pulled my sacroiliac (SI) joint in my left hip.  It was very painful to walk, and since I was pretty weak to begin with, it really slowed me down.
2.  A couple of weeks ago I got a cold, which started to move into a sinus infection.
3.  I started having stomach trouble again.  No appetite, a wacky sense of taste, and nausea all the time.  My doctor was going to order an endoscopy to see what was going on, but last week, when my skin became blotchy, he knew that my stomach issues and the new rash signaled a return of graft vs. host disease, or GVDH.  Instead of finally getting completely off the steroids, I was put back on a full dose of Prednisone to treat the third episode of GVHD.  At this stage in the game, after Day 100, GVHD is called "chronic," instead of "acute."  The weaning process for Prednisone with chronic GVHD is slower (just my luck).  My symptoms have gotten a little better, but it's sloooooow going.  In the meantime, I can only hope that the CMV virus doesn't rear its ugly head again.
4.  One of the side effects from the anti-rejection medication, called Prograf, is tremors.  I've been shaking since the transplant, but for some reason, the tremors have become ridiculous.  I can't write, typing is a challenge, and watching me eat soup or salad is every bit as humorous as any of America's Funniest Home Videos.  I probably won't stop shaking till I get off both the Prograf and the Prednisone, which may take 2-3 months.

Very Happy Events
1.  My SI joint is healed, thanks to my chiropractor and physical therapist.
2.  My cold/sinus infection is gone.
3.  I've had several negative CMV test results, so that is now officially under control.
4.  I made it to 95 pounds!  My appetite is improving and I'm trying to eat like crazy.
5.  I bought a beautiful pre-certified 2008 dark blue Audi A4!  Since I had to turn in my leased Toyota, it was time to find another car.  The timing was awful, as all 4 of the Not So Happy Events above occurred simultaneously.  But it all worked out.  I could have found something less flashy, something that didn't gut the remainder of my savings after paying an obscene amount for Zofia's caregiver services.  Here's my reasoning:  Assuming I die of old age, as most people assume, I'll have plenty of time to replenish my savings while driving a cool car.  If I die sooner (let's not forget that any one of us could get hit by a bus at any time), why not drive a cool car?  So here it is:
6.  I spent Easter Sunday with relatives in Carmel, NY.  I haven't seen my New York family since October, and I was so very happy to be able to spend some time with them.  It was the best Easter I've ever had.
7.  I was able to do something this week that I haven't had the energy to do since last summer.  I took a walk.  It wasn't a long walk, only about 30 minutes with a 10 minute rest on a very hard bench to take in life's wonders, but it was huge for me.  Sporting my new brimmed hat, prepped with 50+ sun block, and fortified with my decaf iced soy latte, I set out around the park in Maplewood Village.  I was thrilled.  The weather was perfect and everything smelled wonderful.  It was so comforting to see people doing normal things:  mothers pushing baby carriages, dogs walking their owners, kids playing soccer or frisbee or just goofing around, fitness minded folks walking or running to prolong their lives.  Of course I was exhausted the next day, but it was well worth it.

I still have several side effects from the medications, including the tremors, and my energy will plummet again as I taper off the steroids, but the Very Happy Events outweigh the Not So Happy Events, so I'm grateful for my progress.  My recovery schedule is not under my control, nor is it under my doctor's control.  It's dictated by my donor's bone marrow, which is now my bone marrow.  I will teeter on the edge of more Not So Happy Events until my new immune system realizes that I am its new home and settles in.  Eventually, the weak flesh will catch up to the very, very willing spirit.