Saturday, January 28, 2012

When real life intrudes

I've just finished the second week of my last semester and must now face a glaring truth: In 17 weeks, if all goes well I will graduate. This event has been 8 years in the making when you include the little cancer hiatus I took from 2007-2010. In 17 weeks if I manage to survive the last 3 classes I will ever have to take as a construction management undergrad, I will be done.

At the moment, I'm currently immersed in the nightmare of every type-A introvert that's ever traipsed through the halls of any learning institution. I'm finally taking the 1 class I've been putting off since my first day of college. Intro to communication studies. There is much emoting expected and the emphasis on class participation is great. I will survive.

There is another class that I must take in order to graduate and until I actually read the syllabus, it didn't occur to me that my grade would depend so heavily on the participation of other students. The class is a semester long group project. I did have the luxury of choosing my group, but that was of little comfort considering I only recognized 2 or 3 students in the class and they were of the variety that I specifically did not want to work with. I tend to remain in a constant state of stress when relying on others for a grade.

Since I can be extremely anal retentive about my grades, my stress level is hovering somewhere in space. I'll get through it. The project will get done. I will graduate.

A side effect of my constant state of stress is a constant state of itchiness. Stress=GvHD for me. Both of my arms are constantly covered in a rash from my wrists to my shoulders. My cheeks are constantly rosy and my scalp is flaking big time. I know that the rashes and itchiness would subside if I could relax. I'm working on it. This is nothing new for me and I've been down this road before. Remember last semester when I thought I was flunking? I finished the semester with a 3.0. I will survive.

The last bit of stress in my life centers upon finding a job. That will have to wait until the next blog post.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

3 little numbers

I've recently come to realize that sets of 3 little numbers hold a great deal of power in my life. 3 little numbers when combined in the right order can occasionally fill me with joy, dread, irritation, or some combination of the three emotions.

985 for my mother.

314 for one of my oldest friends.

408 for my uncle and aunts living too far away.

713 for the place that has owned most of my time over the last 5 years.

At one time, seeing 713 flash across my cell phone screen used to fill me with annoyance and dread.  During the early days of learning to live with the snarling bĂȘte noir that is cancer, 713 meant another appointment, another hospital stay, more strange news about my condition, another day spent away from home.  The sight of 713 conditioned me so that my heart beat a little faster, my hands became less sure, and I stopped whatever I was doing at the time to scramble for my phone.

After 5 years, endless chemotherapy, and 2 transplants, I've come to realize that 713 doesn't have to be the growling beast gnashing its teeth at the end of a too short leash.  This past Monday, 713 became routine.

A physician's assistant covering for my regular PA at MD Anderson called to let me know that some of the results from my bone marrow aspiration were available.  I don't have cancer.  There's no molecular evidence of leukemia.  In blood cancer speak: no minimal residual disease.

The flow cytometry is still pending and results won't be in for some time.  The PA reassured me that my transplant doctor wasn't concerned since my numbers were all so normal.  Normal.

I suppose you can guess how I feel about 713 these days since it is now Wednesday and I've been sitting on these results since Monday afternoon.  No anxiety and no accelerated heartbeat.  713 now means business as usual or a friend on the other end of the line.