Friday, December 2, 2016

The Groundhog Day Effect

Ok. Not really. Yet.

It's only been four hours since we signed in downstairs, but it feels like a bit longer. We are both pretty tired from not much sleep last night. I don't really want to take a nap in the event it messes up my sleep tonight and "sleeping" in a hospital is difficult enough already.

We got situated easily enough. Met the nurse, Rachel. I know because she put her name on the board. Which is brilliant as names are as easy for me as numbers to remember. I'm sure eventually I'll get all the names down, and then hopefully it will be time to leave.

Shane ran "home" to get a few things and I fully expect he will end up falling asleep. Which would be good for him. I'm glad we decided to plan on him staying at the condo. It might help to break up the days a bit more, gives me the opportunity to send laundry back for him to wash, should afford better sleep, and then it can feel more like a date when he comes to hang out. Which he can apparently do as much as he likes, with no set visiting times etc. Just some preventative hand washing etc when he comes. He can even bring me more food should I want to augment my room service meals. Several patients have listed places that will deliver for a dollar or so, so I shouldn't have to worry about going hungry. Which is good, as I am already about 5 lbs. down from our visit in August. I wonder how much hair weighs? I did lose a bit there!


We got all the vitals done and blood taken. Once those come back and Dr.Burt  comes by, we can get the go ahead to start the Cytoxan for today. I'm really hoping it will be like the first time during mobilization. Only thing I really noticed was the itchy head, but that went away quickly. But I think I get the same drug all five days so it might have an accumulative effect. Which I guess we will find out. Then after that I get my stem cells back! Which seems crazy early. I feel like I should wander for 40 years or something at least. But maybe once the full side effects settle in  I'll wish I could trade it  for forty years.


While I wait for Shane I thought I'd update a little here, and before the chemo drugs get started. Yesterday we got the PICC line placed. Which, again, was not a huge ordeal. Except the doctor was the only one  there at the time to the wait time was a little long. She explained what she was going to do (stick a needle with a wire attached and thread it through my upper arm until it reached the outside of the right? ventricle. The lidocaine worked well and I didn't feel a thing. I could turn my head ( I was flat on my back, right arm stretched out to watch the process and the ultrasound monitor she used to guide the needle.)  I didn't watch when she made the incision, just in case I instinctively moved my arm away, and Shane couldn't be there to video so I didn't get to see that part. But everything else was interesting to watch. And at the end I had a three-legged  squid hanging out my arm. With a long tail extending to my heart. Which could be gross if you think of it as an actual squid. But is ok if you think of it as a really neat delivery method for the drugs, and now they can get blood without poking me. So that is handy.


We can visit with Dr. Burt's other patients in the common areas. For some we have to be masked and gowned. But no visiting in the patients' rooms. I don't know if we can traverse the floors, as some of them are upstairs, but for now I'm content to just sit and play Rear Window.
(Look who showed up and found the picture.That would be Shane. Not pictured here.)

I took a picture of my view, but now I can't find which file it decided to hide it in (no surprises here) but it is not much to look at. Except  it is of the outside world. And I'm stuck on the inside. But its really cold out there, so I'm ok with that. We may get snow in the next week or so, which would be pretty to see.  There is potential snow in the forecast for home. Which kind of figures. We leave. Then we get snow. But the kids will really enjoy it so hopefully we can see pictures.


Got my IV going now. Just Mesna and some fluids. I do get the Cytoxan later today, along with the wonderful Lasix. With the wonderful Lasix, I also get a Foley catheter for 5 days as well. The nurse assures me the Lasix is not so bothersome when you have a constant drainage system in place. So at least there is that.

Cytoxan is dripping in now. Along with the Lasix. Which means they have already placed the Foley catheter. At the moment I am not too impressed. It just feels like I have to pee ALL THE TIME.  But I can't get up. The nurse says my body just needs to get used to it. Once it settles down you won't even notice its there. Well it has not settled down yet. So like I said, I'm not to impressed.
It just means another bag to hang on my IV pole, which is sadly bereft of any Christmas decorations. Maybe that can be Shane's mission tomorrow.


Today he did find me a scarf. He texted some pictures I texted back the black one. He got he grey plaid one. So we are both happy. Plus its big, almost like a shawl, which I was thinking I wanted instead of the scarf. He told me one of the scarves was $425. So he asked the sales lady for anything that did not contain real gold threads,  or diamond tags  with the misspelled name blueberry. He found one and it is wide enough I can wear it like a shawl so the lines in my arms don't get all tangled up but my shoulders can stay warm. I've been wearing it the rest of the day.

Surprisingly the rest of the day has gone fairly quickly. Shane came back from all his excursions and we traded stories over the order so loukamamades ( I know I'm not spelling that correctly) he brought back for us.


The nurse had already inserted the catheter, which was no big deal and I was curious/excited to see how the Lasix would feel. The catheter was another add on to my IV cart I have to untangle and babysit. So not good from that end. Once my body accepted it, it calmed down a little, But very slowly. After some time I just tried to accept the fact that yes, it felt like I needed to pee but I didn't need to get up. Everything was taken care of. It almost felt like I had started to pee my pants. Turn off freak out response. I'm connected to a big tube with a bag. I don't have to go anywhere.

Then I stood up. And discovered my phobias were real. All of them. And they were in my underwear. And in my pants. Really? It has one job. transfer the urine from the bladder to the bag. Bladder to the bag. No stopping for anything. Especially no stopping to spray down my underwear. You're Fired.

I sighed and called the nurse. I said my catheter is leaking.

She came back and inflated it and told me to pee. Still leaking. I asked if we could just ditch it. She said maybe. I needed to pee again and then call her so she could ultrasound my bladder and see what was left. So of course I didn't have to pee for hours, despite the half liter of water I just drank. Finally I did. She checked. Nope. Too ,much urine left. She paged them to come back and re-insert the catheter. Which, by itself is not a big deal. Babysitting it just gets really old. So I'm waiting for that now. But please, take your sweet time before tethering me to a urine receptacle. The only thing I have to look forward to is sleep. And Shane coming back to visit in the morning.


It is kind of surreal to actually be here. In Chicago. Getting HSCT under  Dr.Burt. Who I will probably see this Sunday. I feel like it has still not sunken in. Having made three trips in barely over three months does make everything feel a little ordinary. I did get a dose of the rATG today. Many people said that was the worst. I'm fine for now. Hopefully the repeat doses over the next four days will be the same, but I doubt it. Shane asked the nurse what the 'rabbit'(that's what she called it) is for and apparently it depletes certain types of cells and something else. You, or I, will have to ask Shane. He was there. A rabbit is involved somewhere

OK I'm fairly certain some text disappeared without my permission. But its too late to hunt it down. So I'm sorry if some of this sounded funny. Got the new catheter going. So far so good. The Benadryl has not worn off entirely so I think I'll grab whats left and try to get some sleep.



Wednesday, November 30, 2016

And We Are Off! Again.

It feels like we just got home. And now we are preparing to go back. Somehow I thought the Thanksgiving break was longer. But now it's already over and I am collecting things to get me/us through the last phase. I will be in the hospital for almost three weeks straight. I think the isolation part is about 10 days, but it sounds like you can still have visitors for a little bit each day. As long as they are sterilized. And not sick. So if Shane gets bored he will be able to stop by. Not that I'll have much in the way of entertainment for him. Unless the psychotic episodes manifest themselves. But then he might just want to stay at the rental instead. I think he does have some meetings scheduled so that could help break things up for him. I wish I could find a great series to get into and maybe I wouldn't even notice all the pokes and medications. Unless, which I'm pretty sure they do, they give me Lasix. Nobody could not notice that. I've been getting tips from other past patients on what to bring/how to prepare etc. Shane will be there and can get bring me anything I need and the hospital has all they can offer. But it was good to hear what other people suggested/found really useful.

One person suggested a water bottle. Which I think is really wise. The little Styrofoam cups with a straw sitting on your bedside table are recipes for disasters. The night in the hospital I was trying to get comfortable after my last Lasix induced trip to the restroom and the pillows kept crowding me so finally I took one of them and tossed it to the end of the bed. Somehow on its way, it swiped the side table and I felt cold water splash all over my side and the bed. It wasn't too bad, but I was concerned the water might not be good for the electric bed, so I called the nurse and she changed the sheets and gave me a new gown and I crawled back into my crinkly-ever-inflating-deflating-crib.
I asked the nurse if there was a way to turn it off, but she said no. I'd lose all the electricity driven perks.  I wasn't about to try sitting up on my own so I just toughed it out. Plus, the call button wouldn't work and then who would change my sheets at midnight? 

Shane would have , if he were there, but, like I said, we both thought it would be a good idea if at least one of us had a restful night's sleep. Another tip garnered from the veterans for the big stay: get the nurses to adjust your vitals/medication schedule where they can to maximize uninterrupted sleep time. For my one night stay nobody poked or prodded me for a good eight hours so I was pleasantly surprised when I woke up feeling pretty rested the next morning. I think Benadryl was the only  sleepy drug they gave me. I think the rest was just me being tired. From lying in bed all day?

The flight back to Chicago this time was pretty uneventful. I watched 'In the  Heart of The Sea' which was entertaining, and sadly reminiscent of 'The Seawolf '. Sad, because it wasn't 'The Seawolf.' So it was over in a couple of hours. I've never read 'Moby Dick' so at least there were no spoilers. (Haha)  But both books  had boats. And lots of cold water. It almost makes Shane's commute seem doable. And it made me very thankful for electricity. If only the backers of the whaling boats could have seen that one coming. (No Chris Hemsworth! You don't need the kill that whale. The light bulb is coming.)
Who knows, maybe the backers of the boats backed those too.  Maybe I'll research it later. But probably not. I've got a trip through the Amazon to get through first.

 Our last trip we decided to bring the wheelchair Shane got me when my legs were more squirrelly.  Oh boy! The airport was an adventure. I wanted to walk as much as possible before sitting on the plane so we walked up to the security lines, pushing the wheelchair. It was like they didn't know what to do with us.

Who is the chair for?

I should have brought/taken a video of me walking a few weeks before. Shane said it was pretty bad. Which was why he ordered the wheelchair. I only know how it felt, but that has always been worse than the actual presentation, I think. But I'm hoping we won't get another chance for video. My legs/balance/walking have improved quite a bit from our last trip. And though I probably could make it to the Navy Pier, it doesn't mean everything else (I'm talking about you, Bladder) would cooperate. But I'm ok with just  getting glimpses of it  too. And saving up energy for when I check in to the hospital on Friday. I get the PIC line put in tomorrow, and so far people say it is not a big deal. Of course it will be staying there for about 3 weeks, so that might get old. But oh well. Like I said, we didn't come for the view or the tourist attractions. So it will all be good.

Today we have a rest day. And tomorrow we get the line put in, but I think that only takes up to an hour at the most. Then we can pretend we are just here on vacation. After Shane finishes his work for the day.  I did bring 'The River of Doubt' to read ( I know. What's up with all the boats and water stuff?)  I really don't know. I guess I wanted something to feel adventurous while I'm tied to my bed and IV pole. Or it was the first thing I saw on the shelf as we were  walking out the door. Take your pick.  Grandpa is reading 'Swiss Family Robinson' to the kids back home, so I might read that one too. You never know.


Ok. Time for some lunch and some last minute drugstore purchases. Oh, and maybe some of the  online Christmas shopping I was wanted to get done last trip. I'll have Shane take away my devices for the heavy steroid days, as another patient warned about shopping at those times. Maybe getting home will be like Christmas for everyone. 'I don't remember ordering this.' Where did this come from?'

Could be fun for the whole family!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Just waiting.....still.

So I had envisioned keeping a very detailed account of our trip. I really appreciated reading other patients HSCT stories. Now I'm just really impressed anyone got anything written ever. Seriously, yesterday's post took me two days,  50,000 backspaces, heavy re-writing, and it was still not what I had wanted it to be.

Shane went out to get some dinner for us. My appetite has been a little more voracious since the steroids, after the chemo, so I'm trying to keep up and maybe store up some reserves  for the nest trip. Once we were discharged I felt a little uncertain being away from the doctors' constant care. We were told to take my temperature twice a day, and if it ever got to 101.4 go straight to the ER and page Dr.Burt. Easy enough. Until the first day it climbed to 99.1. Then the next night 99.6.


Was this ok? does it mean we should go in? We didn't know. Finally I found some other patient stories, and yes it was ok. Just means things are working. But if your get to 101.4 , head in. I don't know what that would indicate but I know they would take care of it. It would have been nice to know 'Hey, your temp is going to fluctuate a lot but that's ok.' I guess that part got left out.  While I am documenting 'things I wish they'd told me', let's just add a few more.

Like ' Hey here is some anti-nausea medication. Take it every eight hours when you need it.'


It should also have included  "but be warned, it is also a killer constipant."


And when we finally arrived at that realization, along with the bottle of magnesium citrate to remedy the situation, a little note attached to  the side saying ' Take tiny sips. Do not guzzle the fizzy syrup like s soda pop'.  would also have been appreciated by some patients.



I feel like I'm complaining a lot. But if this is going to be useful, it also has to be honest. And I wish I had read my story before I came. I would have also brought some books. We watched a bit of the election coverage. And now some of the post election coverage. It was mildly entertaining to see the media so flummoxed by the results, scratching their heads asking 'how did we not see this?'

No one mentioned dry mouth as a freebie. Yet the gift is here. Taking sips of water helps for a second, but I need to sleep. Because I need to get up in five hours. And because I'm tired. But it feels like I have the Sahara desert in my throat. I asked on the forum for suggestions and someone said there is a lozenge in stores, so we will/Shane will track some down tomorrow and at least daytime will be tolerable. I tried turning the shower on to add moisture. I tried breathing with my head under the covers, which only added to the feeling of suffocation. I had already turned off the air/fan which I like to blot out the sirens and street noise at night. So instead I'm up and writing.



There was a protest rally not far from us earlier tonight and the police cars were whizzing back and forth for a long while. But I'm  pretty sure everyone has gone home now as it is calmed down, As far as I know no one was shot but we'll have to wait to read the news tomorrow to be sure. Seattle held its own rally too. Three people were shot, but I think they were not part of the rally and it said they were taken to the hospital. So hopefully that is a good sign Again, we'll have to see what the news says tomorrow.

Next day, four hours of sleep later.

On a bright note, I have not experienced the excruciating bone pain that can accompany the stem cell migration.  So I am thankful for that. Another patient warned the painkiller they send you home with to treat it makes some people feel pretty weird, so Extra Strength Tylenol it is. It's nice to know. And be prepared.


Shane is done with work for the day. Hooray! So now we can have dinner and I can freak out and tell him all my anxieties around tomorrow.  And get to bed early, hopefully. So I can get to my day long appointment hooked up to the apheresis machine and a bed pan.  They say the chair for the patients are quite comfortable, but no so much for the guest. Shane might want to come and go throughout the day. And word is, they don't serve lunch. Which is an awful situation for me  But Shane can get us lunch and we can have lunch together. And then maybe he can put up and details about the day. I'm hoping to be catching up on sleep. Pray they get all the stem cells they need tomorrow, or we will have to go back the next day to get more.



Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Greetings Chicago! We come in peace.

Shane says I need to start this with a disclaimer.

Disclaimer. Chemo-brained-vision-impaired-caged-bird ahead.

Moving on...

Sorry for the unplanned radio silence. I thought I would have more opportunity to write, and actually I was right. I did. But I didn't count on feeling so un-moti-va-ted. Or lazy, to be blunt. I can take it.

We've been in Chicago a week now.Maybe it's jet-lag still. Or maybe all the lying around begets more lying around. (Should that b laying around?) I don't know and once again I'm just going to let it lie there because energy.

It has actually been a pretty full week. For not  doing anything except watch the cranes work out our window. And sometimes we get hungry and Shane runs out for provisions. Then  we hunker down until the next water/food run. And here we are.

Shane is working right now. so I thought I could look busy too. I think I might need some headphones and a list of funny sounding acronyms to throw out every few sentences. in addition to that like they've taken the english language and decided to give all the words new meanings. I understand the words I hear, but it makes no sense to me. I f I ask Shane he'll try to explain in words I understand, but I don't want to bother him. Plus we have an appointment tomorrow so not much time. I am content watching the cranes move enormous loads up and down (Malachi would so love the view). When I get worn out from watching all the work, I can go take  a nap. Then we have lunch. Then back to work. At some point Shane will call "Hey! They're bringing down stuff for the day. If you hurry you can see them land the port-o-potties!"  

Yes. It is very exciting here. Actually, it is.

I started the mobilization phase of HSCT last Tuesday, I think. An overnight stay in the hospital with a bag of IV chemo (cyclophosphamide)  and whatever else they felt I should have. My favorite was the Lasix(sp?) I think it was called. I just  new 3 seconds after the nurse injected it I had to pee! Now! And two seconds after that, guess what I needed to do? The chemo is pretty hard on the bladder, I think in much earlier  renditions bladder cancer was a possible side effect, so I really appreciated everything that was done to try and preserve as much as possible. The Mesna, also for protecting the bladder, did not have the same effect of as the Lasix. rapidly repeating trips  to the restroom.  I thought it a little cruel they gave me the Lasix at bed time. But I cooperated. It does wear off, hence the multiple doses. They also gave me the nice anti nausea medication so I was a little sleepy.

Shane was with me all day. He went out and brought dinner back for us. He could have ordered off the hospital menu, for $12 or something, but we're here in Chicago so why not enjoy all the culinary options available to us. He ordered up some things from T.G.I.Friday's Which was right near the hospital and offered the option of ordering on-line for pick-up. And which we had never tried before. See? We're trying new things already.

The next morning, not knowing when Shane would arrive or what he would bring, I ordered breakfast and a coffee for myself. Just as I finished eating, Shane arrived with  a latte and some treats. A breve latte to be exact. Funny story but the first time he ordered, the barista didn't  know what a breve latte was. So he explained. She remarked that is how she drinks her coffee, but never knew it was called a breve.

Fast forward, we finish up the hospital stay, get our discharge instructions, its still funny to me how normal I feel having Dr. Burt stop in to check on things. Shane brought the wheelchair in the event I was to tired, we picked up my prescriptions and stopped for lunch at Beatrix. We were free.


To do nothing. Almost. Five days later I got to start the Granix (unpegged) injections to encourage the stem cells to keep moving so we can harvest them on Friday. It sounds kind of macabre, but they will be kept safe until we come back in a few weeks for chemo bonanza and then we will be reunited. And they will build me a new immune system free of  myelin-munching gremlins. AKA MS.  Today we went in for blood work and the white cells are dying as they should  so we will stay put and wait for Friday.

Shane has lots of work to keep him busy and in a few hours we can start  watching election results. Until then I can sit and watch the fun patterns my eyes think they see on the walls, floor, bed cover wherever. I don't know how it is explained in a what is going on here doctor kind of way. But Charles Bonnet Syndrome on Wikipedia is the best I've found.

I would insert the link and all that tricky stuff but that requires lots of skills that are hard to do with one good eye-which about two weeks ago decided to stop playing good eye  and jumped  in the optic neuritis pool. And has resulted in some awkward depth perception problems. I get why they paint curbs a different color sometimes. Pouring a glass of water into a glass cup often results in me watering the counter. So I'm just going with water bottles now.  Pre-filled.


Time to eat dinner and get ready for the evening ahead. I pray its not a long one and everyone stays civil and polite. Given Clinton's penchant for pantsuits, I think I can also say


"May the best man win!"


Thursday, September 22, 2016

Help! I've fallen And I Can't Get Up!!

(Oh the commercials we used to make  fun of. Karma.)


The week-end flew by too quickly. As always. Today we started our 'school year.'  The kids are thrilled, mostly. I have one, so far, child who loves everything to be organized, is not at all opposed to doing the organizing, and who said this morning,

"I'm really excited to get on an early schedule so we can do more things every day."


I don't know where she gets it from. Or maybe I do. And it isn't me.

The other kids decided to start a debate team, with the first topic to be the harmful effects of getting up early. Which was not really a debate, as they all agreed with each other. It was a short class, but one I think they will re-hash. Every morning.

I do know where they get that from.

Also, early meant 9:00 this morning. We are easing into our new routine. And we had had some late nights this weekend with some cousin visits, so it just seemed cruel to get up earlier. Even at nine there was moaning and gnashing of teeth. But once I had my coffee, I got better. Things started to look up. I was even inspired to hang up the world map I've had for years. OK, before we moved into this house this house 10 years ago,but couldn't decide where it would be most useful and the least likely to get attacked. Too high, we can't read it. Too low, its subject to little ones dividing and plundering the lands with crayons. As much as I'd love to turn the house into a Montessori classroom, it's difficult when the puzzle maps are next to the legos and the pink tower looks dangerously similar to a baby's stacking cups. So the map had been hiding. Safe from the marauding barbarians.

Cyprian was reading about the Suez Canal and some fighting in South America between Chile and Bolivia and water rights or something. So I finally picked a spot and he helped me tack the world map up. Then he looked the map over and said,


"Oh, wow. That would save them a ton of time not having to go around the continent."  And,
"I can see why Bolivia wanted to get access. Chile has a ton of waterfront."


Which is exactly what I was hoping he would say. It didn't have to be that exactly, but I was hoping to see the "Oh, I get it now!" look on his face. I love maps. And history. Malachi, of course, noticed the new wall decoration and wanted to know where we live, where his cousins live, and then went on to show off his new found knowledge to the bigger kids, who, not being there when I showed Malachi, were very impressed. And so far no one has taken writing instrument to it. But its early in the year.

So I'm quite pleased with our first day, and look forward to more. I'm also, maybe a little inordinately, pleased when an email comes in from the co-op we are sitting out this year, asking for subs or textbooks. And appreciating the time and energy we will not be spending on those classes. The last couple years my mother-in-law helped with the driving and sitting in on lessons, and this past year she did all of it. But I still had to write a few checks, and make sure the kids were dressed for public consumption. All of them. So it is a load off to be sitting this year out.


It is also a load off  to not be rubbing elbows, shoulders, or anything, with herds of other kids as we enter the cold-flu season. I've been preparing the kids for some stricter hygiene routines post-HSCT.

'This is water. This is soap. This is a clean towel....'

I'm getting really serious this year.

Malachi and Fi kind of get it. They went out and hooked up the sprinkler directly to the outside hose bib. Cool. But not sure its good for anything but necessitating a new outfit. Which I guess can come in under: We don't bring dirt into the house. Change your clothes when you do come in etc. Or 'Look, Mom! We recreated the Bellagio!'


But now the sprinkler days are ending and we will enter our 'complete shut-ins for the rest of the season' phase. We had scheduled a last hurrah for tomorrow evening, but ended up canceling. I emailed my doctor and the Chicago Drs as my walking has become increasingly difficult. Which seemed weird to me as I just did the steroids three weeks ago and I thought the effects were supposed to be longer lasting. Apparently, there can also be a withdrawal effect as well, which is what may/or may not be happening. I was offered a shorter course of steroids. I said no thanks. As much as my laundry and bathrooms could benefit from a little energy burst, I can do without the wakefulness and paranoia. Though it is still yet to be proven as just that. Plus I might 'feel' like I could do things I can't/shouldn't.  

Shane ixned me from carrying children up or down the stairs. And I am working really hard on just doing what he asks because I know I'll need it in the coming months. So I promised. Fortunately we have lots of non-wonky legs to transport sleeping babies to their beds, so I think we'll make it. And sliding down the stairs can be fun too.

I was a little worried at first to ask the Chicago Drs for advice on what/if anything I should do. What if they thought, 'Nah! she's too far gone. Take her off the list.'  Then I'd have to crawl back to Moscow and ask them to take me on again. I'm pretty much over Florence. It seems everyone who goes the myeloblative ends up with lots of recovery issues. And that just really doesn't sound good to me. (Funny thing. When I sent my break up letter to Florence, the coordinator told me they are sending a nurse out to study under Dr. Burt at the same time I will be in Chicago. So I will have to look her up.)

But Chicago didn't cancel me. And we are still going. And not a minute too soon, it feels. Maybe a day later than I'd prefer. But I'll take what I can get.

Oh. I fell over. DOING LAUNDRY! Of all the risky household tasks there are. I couldn't believe it either. I was squatting down pulling clothes from the dryer, and my not so balanced balance really wanted me to keep leaning to the left and my body said, "that sounds like a reasonable idea. Lets do it!'
And suddenly I was trying to grab the sides of the very slippery dryer while, in slow-motion, my body kept its course and soon came to rest on the floor. Which was not really so bad. Except my left big toe didn't get the memo we were emergency re-positioning, and decided to try and 'help' by staking a claim and sliding  and wedging itself. UNDER THE DRYER. Which really hurt. But I couldn't just pull it straight out. It needed to be turned a little sideways, the toe, not the dryer, which I could not do while still on the floor, so I had to bear hug and crawl up the front of the drier til I got to the top and carefully backed out my big toe.

I just lay there on top of the dryer. In utter disbelief. And somewhat in amusement. But disappointment there was no one there to witness and be able to re-tell the story of 'Mom versus  the Dryer'.   And definitely some in pain. I thought if I just stayed away from any toys with wheels I'd be safe. But no. I'm going to have to rethink my cleaning routine. 

Shane and the big kids started a going to a Wing Chun class. Side note: Bruce Lee studied under Ip Man. Bruce Lee also went to the University of Washington and is buried in a cemetery in Lake City, not far from my house. Just some random trivia. They were showing me some of the moves tonight and the right stance and placement of feet for steadier balance etc. I thought, Maybe I should take some classes. Maybe it could help. Shane said no. Not now. Maybe later. I'm good with that.









Friday, September 9, 2016

Happy Holidays!

 A little early, you might be thinking, but I thought I'd get a jump on the holidays this year. Even years when I have started preparing early, it seems like it was never early enough and now I have a mound of baking, presents to wrap, and the kids will be banging on the door in two hours. And I have completely forgotten the option of just blaming  it all on Gilder. So mid-September seems a fine time to start. The leaves are changing. Most of as have unpacked our shoes. A few preppers have located their socks. Some of us have actually worn them. I even picked up a new jacket yesterday! Because winter is coming. And because it feels like a cozy bathrobe, but I can totally go out and get a coffee in it. Not that wearing an actual bathrobe on a coffee run is not acceptable. Plus, if you have a red one (bathrobe), you just look like you are getting into the holiday spirit. Or trying to look like the double tall latte you just ordered. (Oh my gosh! That's so cute. They are putting people dressed up as coffee in the stores. Now I want one.)  A person? A Latte? I won't tell you what to think. They can't deny coffee to a festive person like that. Please do make sure your bathrobe is an appropriate length before venturing forth. Let people have  the option of ordering  their  own sticky buns with their coffee.

I have a serious allergy to anything below 60 degrees. And I'm short. So I can wear my kids' bathrobe on a coffee run and still feel appropriately attired for a meeting with the pope. (Red totally works at the Vatican too!) On days closer to 40, I am ready to grab and go with my "sleeping bag with sleeves" as my brother-in-law calls it. I don't care what anyone calls it, or how it looks. It's long. It's red. And it's my security blanket 9 months of the year. The other three months are just too cold to open the front door. I seriously wore it just this last Fourth of July. Everyone just thought I was being really patriotic. How dedicated is that to wear a big red down blanket in the middle of summer. (She must really love our country!) Red really is a year-round color. I highly recommend it.


I also highly recommend Tom and Jerry cartoons. (What!? Where did that come from?) I discovered a way to parent, drink coffee, and write all at the same time. In the form of Tom and Jerry. I forgot how enjoyable they are. No snotty attitudes. No violence. No product placements. Just good music and good laughs. Seriously good music. So I have pleasant  background noise to boot. So if some of  these sentences come out in 3/4 timing (The waltz form Coppelia) you are not making it up. Hungarian Rhapsody. 1812 Overture.  From Beethoven to Berlioz, the kids can have an international music lesson, all the while entertained by the antics of a clever mouse pulling a fast one on poor Tom. As kids we always thought Jerry was kind of a sticky bun. But we also learned to appreciate and enjoy quality music. So I consider them educational. Add to that the impressiveness of the cartoons not being computer generated and you've got an entire art appreciation lesson done. Before noon. And you are still in your bathrobe. If you are feeling even more ambitious, you can also expose them to modern art. It's not my favorite, but a little Call of Duty now and then will keep them well rounded.

And it will give me time to order flowers, which takes an exorbitant amount of time to do. So many places. So many bouquets. So many add-ons and up-grades. And passwords? I'm ordering flowers. Not launching a nuclear  weapon. Please don't make this harder than it already is. And why are they calling the bouquets names like "Serenity" and "Peace" . Add to that a card that says "thinking of you" and what is the recipient to think you are thinking of them.

"I broke a leg. And now they are sending me "Fond Remembrances?!"

So you finally eenie meenie minie moe in on one. And then they suggest you make it a Deluxe. Or you thought even more fondly of them and go for an Extravagant. Which I think just means they don't use last years flowers.

Oh, you want fresh ones.?

Ok. That'll be another $14.

And you want them delivered to the door. $12.

In a real vase? Seriously? Fine. Add $10.

This week? Not next month? Express delivery, that's double.

You really don't seem like the kind of person who'd pay for same day, so we won't even mention that option.



And then .........The person you were remembering so fondly they might just get a restraining order put on you, posts a picture of your sweet memories on Facebook.


And you feel like an ass-hat.


But you refrain from calling the delivery company and accusing them of sending what looks like an arrangement  created when a drunk driver sideswiped a farmers market and pulled the greenery out of his grill plate and stuck it in an oil can. Which would actually  get you a larger arrangement and could probably become quite popular . Instead you take out your magnifying glass and confirm that that is indeed the happy little day bouquet you picked out. In the rustic cardboard vase. And hope everyone forgets about it by Christmas.



I got my HSCT dental clearance this week. Comes complete with a badge and sunglasses. Or it sounds like it should. Now all I have left is a battery of tests next month  for pulmonary and heart function etc.

In addition to fresh minty smile, I also got to promote Dr.Burt's work. The hygienist has a friend with MS. And knows someone else with Lupus. I was very happy to share the love and hope, and write down information for her to pass on. Tis the season. Don't be a Grinch. Pass it on.

Speaking of seasons, I think its time to move on from the cartoons. Grandpa is bringing a few cousins over to spend the day. Which makes us all feel like its Thanksgiving. And will most likely inspire some modern art classes.

















Thursday, September 8, 2016

What is Your Name? Who Do You Work For?


It was great fun last week, going with Shane every morning to get the infusions, and then sometimes (most of the time) okay (every time, except one. No, we went that time too.) Out to lunch afterwards.

Luckily we had the Monday holiday to keep things fun, but he ended up working most of it. And when he wasn't working he was cooking. So I felt very spoiled. But now it's over. And back to real life. Sort of.

I was really curious to see how the steroids would treat me, as I had never done them in all the 25 years I had the option to. Shane said he just noticed I talked more. By day three I pretty much became immune to the effects, not as chatty, and he kept asking if I was ok? I was actually more than ok. I didn't feel an overabundance of energy, though the laundry pile was slightly smaller at the end of the week.  I did notice I just didn't get as tired doing normal things. Stairs didn't slow me down hugely. I could shop, make dinner, and do some chores.

I felt normal. Like 25 years ago normal. It. Was. Awesome!

Fortunately, we made all our travel plans while I was on the juice and I felt I could have useful input and offer insightful consideration. Don't remember what they were, but I'm sure they were there. Realistically, I just and watched him make all the arrangements.

Then day 4. And 5 came. Day 6 my feet started to feel funny, like I'd been standing barefoot in the snow funny. My step was less springy. My legs heavier and cumbersome. I just wanted to nap. Which I did. But things kept returning to"normal". Having taken a brief trip to feeling good land, the return to lame land felt really hard. I wondered if it was always this bad or I had it gotten even worse? I think its the former

I'm hoping it was a glimpse of what is to come after I've recovered from everything, so maybe a year or two down the road. Not that I'm thinking of taking  to rollerskating, ever again, but shoe shopping with real feet sounds interesting. I like how one patient described his new found feeling in his legs as "Positional Awareness".  He didn't have to check to see if his feet were on the floor before he stood up. It was real time feed back. No latency. I'm aware no one can predict the results, and currently results are really just focused on not getting worse. But lots of people have wiggled their previously frozen toes or gone on hikes. Or realized at the end of the day they had had gone up and down staircases moving boxes and hadn't thought twice about railings or the number of steps. They had just been living. Without micromanaging their every movement and energy stores. Typically, patients keep a diary of their procedures, the good, the bald, the pukey.  But over time updates  become less frequent until someone chases them down and asks what's up? And the response is, "Oh, I've just been busy doing things again."

Day 7 the paranoia made an a appearance. Or so Shane says. But he doesn't know what I know. Some insurance lady calls and says she wants to verify my information. Umm. How about you verify YOUR information. She says fair enough and gives me her name and encourages me to call the main number to verify employment. As if it's  her real name. So I ask for her social. No, I didn't really. But I didn't give her anything. So it's all good. And the transplant is approved for up to a year. If she's telling the truth.


So all in all, it's been an interesting week. I didn't gain much weight. Which is fine. Shane did most of the driving, just case I got a case of the Mario Andretti's.The one day I did drive was fine. So hopefully all the real effects were good ones, in my head, and we have our trips all booked. And I have one  billion and twenty philosophical thoughts on this whole process and my kids are reading Aristotle, so how does living/not living/ society/insurance/love of God/love of  neighbor/civic duty/Christmas/half and half/happiness fit together? Dizzy yet? Don't worry, it's just the prednisone wearing off.

Like I said. I have tons of thoughts. But maybe we should wait til everything is a little calmer. And I get some sleep. Fiona has been having her own restless times. Many of which consisted of but were not limited to NOT sleeping for half of last night. She kept whimpering,

"Mama?! Hold You." or "Mama?! Hold Me!"

Which, respectively translates to "Mama, I need to lie on your head!" and "Mama, I need to put my chin in your eye socket".
 And both of which only afford a minute of non-whimpering.

 I think she might be going through some  neurological growth, which I am seriously in favor of, and will gladly support despite the nocturnal near suffocating events. Even amidst the rough spots, I can't help but feel extremely joyful, tired but joyful, when I am  nestled between Shane and Fiona every night. And I am resolved to absorb and enjoy it all I can. It is so easy to take things for granted until they are not there. Right now I want to soak up and savor every minute I can.


In the mean time, Shane will keep me on the sane and narrow path. If this post disappears, it could be because  he read it and strongly suggested it is too whacky and the nice thing to do is to let it go. I trust him, so I'd do it. He asked if I felt any apprehension about the whole process. I said no. The  kids will  be happy and probably enjoying better living standards,  under his parents care.   If  I flip out, lose it, have doubts, get scared, all I have to do is ask Shane what I should do, and I'll cooperate.  Shane thinks, given my under-reactions to procedures in the past, I might not even notice all the needles and poisons and will sail through it all without incident. Or maybe he's just trying to psych me up for it. Which is a good strategy too. (He's so smart. Full package, I tell you.)

He has it arranged with work to work remotely for the non crazy times while he does my shots and I lie around complaining there is nothing new on Netflix, and then be available full time for the crazy times. While I complain I've already watched everything new on Netflix, and I'd really prefer some tapas to the hospital meal, and then do skype calls with the kids to keep their lessons going. So pray for him, especially. I just have to lie there and follow orders. While he takes care of everything else. Which he is extremely good at. And for which I am extremely grateful. Fortunately, we've had lots of practice. I don't think I would do well being on the other end of labor. Shane, on the other hand, excels at it. I'd be like,

"Soooo, its getting kind of late and I'm pretty tired. do you think we could just pick this up in the morning. After some sleep? And a latte?"

But Shane will rub my back for hours. Ask if there is anything he can get me. And afterwards make me freshly grilled steak and eggs every morning for weeks, despite working and walking a fussy baby til the wee hours.

So I think we are pretty well prepared for our respective rolls. But first I have to go and get my dental clearance for transplant. At least, the lady 'said' she is a dentist.