I saw my local oncologist last Wednesday for some blood-work requested by my transplant doctor in Houston. According to Dr. B.'s cell counter, things look good. Bearing in mind that numbers are relative to the sensitivity and age of the equipment, there has still been an improvement. My liver numbers were down. My platelets are also dropping, which is due to the steroids. Lymphocytes are up, which has Chris worried. Dr. B. reassured him that it's not significant of anything. I recall them being up when I was last on steroids, so I'm not worried.
My lung function is better and I am coughing less. My brain is constantly vibrating and it's nearly impossible for me to stay focused on one thing for long. Sleep is something that I miss. I can generally stay asleep for between 2 and 4 hours, and then I'm wide awake and looking for something to eat. I do not love this aspect of steroids.
This time around, I've decided to try an experiment. As most of you know, long-term steroid use can lead to avascular necrosis and a host of other life-long health issues. I managed to dodge all bullets last time and I am well aware of how lucky I am for it. In transplant patients, the AVN usually attacks the hips. Your bones die. This means constant pain and the need for replacement surgeries. I know AVN sufferers who have it in most all of their joints. It terrifies me.
Steroids also lead to muscle weakness, especially in the legs. Taking these two boogie men into consideration, I've decided to hit the treadmill, hard. Walking helps with bone density and circulation. I do it at the maximum incline to really work my legs. Thus far, I've managed between 60-102 minutes each day. I don't want AVN. I don't know that this will help, but I have to do something.
An added bonus to spending so much time on the treadmill is that it helps to burn off some of the excessive energy. I feel less manic after a long session of mindless walking. I also feel better about the late night queso binges. So far, I've managed to keep my weight stable. Last time on steroids I gained something like 24 pounds. Not this time if I can help it.
The lower part of my face is beginning to fill out thanks to the methylpred. I should look like a crazy Disney character in about 3 weeks. I'll post the picture I took of myself after the first week once I remember where it is.
In other news, Chris and I have been working on Halloween decorations. We made tombstones last weekend, and I must say they came out pretty well. Amazing what you can do with foam insulation, a dremel tool, and some paint. Chris is the architect of this endeavor. I'm supplying the painting instructions and manual labor. It's been a lot of fun, and I'm just so happy to be able to do this with Chris.
Here are a few pictures that I had on my phone. I'm charging Chris with posting the rest of the shots. You all may want to harass him about it to be sure it happens.
I'm thinking of flocking the spiderwebs and leaving them up through January. They were that persnickety to decorate with.
I still marvel at how talented Chris is. He free-handed the design of the tombstones.
Graves at night. There are several finishing touches that will go in the weekend of Halloween. Chris's dad carved gears for him to use in order to make an animatronic ghost. Artistic talent seems to run in the family. The gears are beautiful and it seems a shame that they're going to be hidden inside the mechanism that makes the ghost wave its arms.
A little daylight. Close-ups of the tombstones will be forthcoming. It's only a matter of getting me to sit still long enough to do it.