Saturday, September 10, 2011

A heaping scoop of normal

It finally happened.

I am sick. After roaring through 2 semesters surrounded by students unscathed, I have finally succumbed.

This past Wednesday, a classmate who sits next to me in 2 consecutive classes came to school, plopped down next to me and proceeded to cough her head off. I held my breath. I averted my face. I emptied my little bottle of Purell. I developed a sore throat on Friday.

I saw my local oncologist's advance practices nurse after class. Her first inclination was to recommend a wait-and-see strategy. If things got worse, then I'd get antibiotics. She was very sweet, and very knowledgeable, but she wasn't my doctor's regular APN nurse. She was filling in and so she wasn't very familiar with my situation. I give her an immense amount of credit for knowing her stuff regarding transplant patients, though. She sees 2 long-time transplant survivors while assisting her regular doctor.

She knew about my GvHD of the skin, scalp, eyes, and mouth. She didn't know about the GvHD in my lungs. When I mentioned it after the wait-and-see diagnosis, she was surprised. She told me that I sounded too good. She's dealt with GvHD of the lungs and so she knows. Chris told her that I tended to be special when it comes to the presentation of special circumstances. I don't present normally. She conferred with my doctor and the decision was made to treat me aggressively out of an abundance of caution. They didn't want me in the ER over the weekend. I didn't want an infection settling in my lungs. My lung capacity is still diminished and the thought of trying to breathe through a chest infection made me twitch.

I started Z-pak yesterday. My throat is a little more sore today, but I don't feel any worse. Z-pak is a beautiful thing. I have several projects due Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, so I'll try to work on them between naps.

Before I forget, my doctor did order labs, so here are the results:

white blood cells: 10.6 k/ul (4.5-10.8)

red blood cells 4.03 M/UL (4.2-5.4)

hemoglobin: 12.8 g/dl (12-16)

platelets: 414 k/ul (150-350) I am a platelet making machine. I always tend to run on the high end, so no need for alarm.

absolute neutrophil count: 7.9 k/ul (1.5-10)

For all intents and purposes, my counts are perfectly normal for me.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Three years on

Three years ago, a complete stranger donated bone marrow to save my life. We were not a perfect match, but close enough. This complete stranger was the only person out of thousands of people on all of the registries who could, through the selfless act of donating, save my life. I'm one of the lucky ones. There are so many in need of a bone marrow transplant who have no viable matches.

A year later, I learned this stranger's name: Dana. A short while later, I received an email from her. I was surprised to learn that we are the same age.

Today, I marvel that I am able to sit in my home and enjoy most of the same activities I loved before the dark days of diagnosis and treatment. The small number of friends that I've made at school have no idea that I spent the better parts of 2007-2009 bald due to chemo. Today, I get to be myself. No awkward silences or difficult questions.

Today, I get to marvel at the novelty of being normal thanks to a beautifully selfless soul who took the time to register as a bone marrow donor.

Today, I get to thank her one more time.

Thank you, Dana.