Sunday, June 10, 2007
Home Sweet Home
I'm going home today! Nineteen days later. Amen.
I almost got sprung yesterday but I developed a rash all over my body that was either an allergic reaction to antibiotics or early-onset Graft Versus Host Disease. So they kept me one more night to see if anything happened. Nothing happened. It still might be GVHD, but at least I'm going home.
It's astounding what happens to your mind as soon as someone whispers in your ear that you "might go home today." All of a sudden, after spending 17 days with no expectations, on Day 18 you decide you MUST go home. Now that they've said it, I must have it. I was so disappointed yesterday to spend another night here, but I dealt with it by assuring myself that today would be the day. Thank God for everybody involved that it turned out to be the case!
I miss Bambina so much I can't even discuss it. Forget chemo; being away from her was the worst and most painful part of this whole thing. I'm sure that being with her and convincing her that I'm back but not "back to normal" will be the second hardest part of this whole thing...
Everyone has been going over the rules for returning home. In essence, as I may have mentioned before, I have the immune system of a 12 day-old baby. Just as babies are born with good blood counts and yet no real immune system, so am I. So even if my white count gets back to normal by tomorrow, I still will have no immunity to anything. All the common colds, flus, skin irritants that I developed a tolerance or immunity to over 35 years are now gone. I'm back to zero. So colds and flus can kill me. Viruses that don't even register on the average 35 year-old will decimate me. Which is why going home really means that I'm trading one type of solitary confinement for another until my immunity gets up to speed over the next year and a half.
So that's the downside. So what am I happy about? What am I grateful for?
1. My donor. I still can't really talk about her without getting emotional, so generous and selfless and non-mandatory was her choice to help me. I'm a colossal cynic, but thinking about this woman, who I someday hope to meet, simply humbles me into silence.
2. My doctor. I love my doctor. I love him for being smart and kind and on top of his game. I also love him for being stricter than all the other doctors; that way you know if he says you can do something (like go home) that you can do it with confidence.
3. My nurses. God himself put oncology nurses on the planet for the benefit of humankind. I would not have made it through this without three very special nurses who talked me off ledges, out of nausea and into morphine. They are truly the strongest links in the chain of patient care. The interesting fact about all of my nurses is that they are all really pretty and incredibly talented, like you wonder if the hospital has a policy of hiring only beautiful African-American and Black Irish women.
4. My family and friends. No one gets through something like this alone. No one gets through something like this with two other people. You need a team, and I'm fortunate enough to say that I have one. From all the friends who packed up the DC house, loaded the truck, took care of Bambina on a moment's notice, to all of the friends and family who have just been there in ways large and small over the past few weeks, I know that I am standing on the shoulders of giants, and I am once again humbled into silence at the loving and giving nature of so many people.
5. All of you. For keeping me company, for making me laugh, for making me think, for giving me a reason to do something other than sit and mope. For being my mental medicine during the barrage of physical medicine. I am so truly blessed that I am, again, humbled into silence.
Unfortunately for you, the silence will probably only last till tomorrow. :)