Friday, August 27, 2010

Week 1

The first week of classes is behind me and I am exhausted. I know I throw that word around a lot, but once you've gone through any type of major illness, exhausted becomes a regular part of your vocabulary. Leading up to the first day of class, I was much more active than I have been in the nearly four years since this all began.

This week has challenged me on a new level. I'm now attempting a level of activity that's outside of my comfort zone. I'm attempting to play normal with the other kids.

The LSU campus is enormous and open and peppered with a confusing assortment of old buildings. As a student, you will do a lot of walking. I've been fortunate this semester. Most of my classes are confined to the engineering building. Unfortunately, I still get more direct sun than I'd like.

I was able to get a parking permit that would allow me to park closer to my classes, thanks to my very understanding BR oncologist. He's an alum and remembered what a nightmare commuter parking at LSU can be. He was worried about the sun exposure setting off my GvHD.

I've been religious about wearing three different sunblocks, but I'm still having GvHD issues. My cheeks and nose are covered in rashes and scabs on a daily basis. It itches. There's a spreading rash on my left forearm that looks a bit like a sunburn. It's sensitive to the touch and feels very much like a sunburn. My feet, hands, and calves have been cramping off and on throughout each day. It makes concentrating in class something of a game. At home, I can get up and walk around to stretch the muscles. I can't do the same during a lecture.

As far as I'm concerned, these are all very minor nuisances in the big scheme of things. If a little discomfort is the price I have to pay for normalcy, then bring it on. I'm happy to be able to do it.

I've already got several assignments due next week, so blogging is going to be tough. I'm going to do my best to stick to my once-a-week promise. If I get a little behind, don't worry. Sometimes, no news really is good news.

Monday, August 23, 2010


The grade for my marketing class just posted: A
Thank you, Dr. Karam!!!

I just had to post since I'm sure Chris is getting sick of me running around the house with my arms in the air, yelling, "YAY!"

For the record: He's proud of me and wouldn't mind if I jogged down the street doing the same thing. :)

Another first

I have survived my first day of classes and am stealing a few moments to update the blog. It's just as I remembered it, except the familiar faces from what would have been my graduating class have been replaced with a whole new cast of characters. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had two classes with two professors from my last semester at LSU. One of them greeted me by name as he handed me a syllabus. It was a lovely, normal moment.

I have two classes tomorrow and if they're at all like the three that I had today, I know that I will have a tremendous amount of reading ahead of me. I've already had to speak to two of my instructors regarding schedule conflicts. It seems that my two year MDA check-up coincides with an exam and an ethics paper. It will all work out, so I'm not going to waste time worrying about it.

Now, if you all will excuse me, I have a few books to crack.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Where do I begin?

I have taken the final exam of my marketing class and am happy to be done. In January, when I first decided to attempt this undertaking, I had legitimate concerns regarding my ability. I'd had Hyper C-Vad, modified Hyper C-Vad with L-Asperiganase, Rituxan, intrathecal chemotherapy, and two courses of consolidation chemotherapy. I have had my immune system burned out of my marrow twice. I have had so many drugs and combinations of toxins that I marvel at my ability to function some days.

My doctors warned me that I would have cognitive issues. I would need to learn how to process information differently. I was warned that I would have issues handling stress.

All true.

I've discovered that my academic effort must be tripled in order for me to do an acceptable level of work. By acceptable, I mean "passing". I used to be the kid that could breeze through school with a minimum of effort. Not so much anymore.

I've learned that I need to rely on flashcards and repetitive drills. Chris plays an integral role in all of this. He holds my hand and encourages me to approach problems from multiple angles. It's been largely due to his encouragement that I managed to get through this.

I will begin physically attending classes at LSU on Monday. I'm taking five classes. The very thought of it makes my heart race. The anxiety is building.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Checking in

No changes here, which is a good thing. I couldn't let the blog slide until 8/20. It didn't feel right. I've handed in the final assignment for my marketing class and am currently reviewing for the last exam. I start physically attending classes two weeks from Monday, and the butterflies are fluttering. I'll check in once I've taken the last marketing test.