My Journey

8NE

Stunning views from my new temporary address.  The Montlake Cut just feet from my window where the water churns as boats and kayaks and sunburned faces delight in the splendor of continuously warm Seattle summer days.  Mount Rainier in pink glow as sun sets, a reminder of the awesome landscape and beauty that I get to live in every day.

But for now, I just get to see it from the confines of this room on 8NE, University of Washington Medical Center.  My address this week…brought here by a 38C fever, post-transplant day 10.  Fever is not good at this point in recovery, as I have no immune system to fight infection.  Until now, I’ve been outpatient!  It’s just mind blowing to me because of the complexity and risk of the transplant.  It’s standard protocol now and for most of the recovery period, I was suffering mostly from the drive to and from Seattle Cancer Care for outpatient care.  It’s not far, but the fatigue and nausea made the drive exhausting.

Treatment at UW is pretty basic.  Routine check of vitals and hydration.  Daily doctor visits and words of encouragement.  Trying to eat…protein and calories.  And the daily analysis of my blood to check progress.

My ticket out of here is three things: hydration, eating and blood levels that show “engraftment” – meaning bone marrow has produced the white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets needed to protect me.  So far, my blood is performing best…it’s the eating and drinking that is a challenge.  The chemotherapy that killed the cancer essentially takes down the GI tract as well and makes eating difficult and nausea a daily obstacle.  It’s improving every day…just not fast enough.

Emotionally I’m doing okay.  Except for losing my hair.  Hair doesn’t come out in one big wig like “bam” and it’s gone.  It happens over several agonizing days…hair is everywhere…and so are the emotions about losing it.  And in retrospect, I lied.  I said I was prepared and that it was just hair, but I really have issues with it!  My friend Toby stopped by yesterday and he shared with me about a time he was given a tour while in the middle east and someone asked why women cover their heads.  The guide said one of the reasons is because the hair reveals the beauty of the woman!  Think about that!  The hair really is part of how a woman and society identify beauty.  I reflect on how many mornings I complain of having a bad hair day…fret over the perfect wave or the perfect cut…it is the completion of the outfit for the day.  It all makes sense why it feels so crappy to lose it.

So, in a desperate moment to do something, my daughter came shears in hand to take care of it, reminding me she was not licensed to do this. And no license was the obvious problem (haha)…it looked ridiculous!  We laughed at the craziness and the weirdness and wept at the loss.  And somehow it is enough right now that my hubby and my daughter and my grandbabies still think I’m beautiful.

Cancer strips one to the core.  The disease devours and to stop it the chemotherapy has to devour what’s left in order to rebuild.  It is a cruel reality.  So as I heal, I’m looking at this as opportunity to rebuild as well.  I’ve had time to reflect while stuck inside…to think about what my future will be.  And I’m excited.  This is where I will focus my energy.

Blessings have come in unexpected packages.  Tuesday the blessings were packaged in visits from my friends Nicole and Fiona, and my daughter Alex and grandson, “doctor Reid”!  The love sent through daily text messages, emails, calls and cards from family and friends. Wednesday visit with Mike who kissed my bald head and reminded me why love is the greatest gift of all.  And Toby’s visit in which he gave me the gift of a beautiful reminder to cherish life’s “ordinary miracles” in a song he shared.   Ordinary miracles such as those visible and those invisible to the eye…like my bone marrow knowing just what to do to make me better!  What an awesome gift…isn’t it remarkable!

 

Ordinary Miracle

Sarah McLachlan

It’s not that unusual
When everything is beautiful
It’s just another ordinary miracle today

The sky knows when it’s time to snow
Don’t need to teach a seed to grow
It’s just another ordinary miracle today

Life is like a gift they say
Wrapped up for you every day
Open up and find a way
To give some of your own love

Isn’t it remarkable?
Like every time a raindrop falls
It’s just another ordinary miracle today

Birds in winter have their fling
They always make it home in spring
It’s just another ordinary miracle today

When you wake up everyday
Please don’t throw your dreams away
Hold them close to your heart
Cause we are all a part of the ordinary miracle

Ordinary miracle
Do you want to see a miracle?

It seems so exceptional
The things just work out after all
It’s just another ordinary miracle today

The sun comes up and shines so bright
And disappears again at night
It’s just another ordinary miracle today

It’s just another ordinary miracle today

Songwriters: Glen Ballard / David Stewart / David Allan

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