Chronicle of a Stem Cell Transplant (and on through to the other side)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Live From Texas


Here we are in the Lone Star State.

As you can imagine, many times in the last two and a half years I think to myself, Well how the hell did I get here? That was certainly the case the first morning after our arrival on Monday (as I was eating my free continental breakfast) and realized my waffle had intentionally been made in the shape of Texas State. I thought adding syrup was a good way to mimic some of the damage caused by Hurricane Ike, but reminded myself that to do so would be highly inappropriate.


M.D. Anderson and the Texas Medical Centre (I know that should be Center, but I can't do it) are truly incredible - in size, in efficiency, cleanliness, and, most importantly, in care. It makes me sad that the world is not a place where everyone has access to such a high level of health care and I am grateful and lucky (well, depending on how you look at it) to be here.

We have been pretty busy since arriving; I've been having a full work-up (again) so that the most appropriate treatment options can be recommended. Today, I had not one, but two bone marrow biopsies (both hips, from the back) and it was nothing like my last painful and frightening experience because I was knocked out.

Of course, I always think I will be the only person in the history of humankind who won't fall asleep after being anesthetized or will wake up screaming in the middle of having the bone extracted, but, as always, it was "How long will this..." Nighty night. My lower back is a little sore now and sleeping comfortably might be a bit of a challenge tonight, but I was just so relieved to not go through what I went through last time.

Tomorrow is a full day too. I will have my ninth PET scan (I was wrong last time when I said I'd had seven), chest x-rays, and CT scans. I have to fast for both scans which means, after this evening, I won't be eating until about four in the afternoon tomorrow. God help us all. I'm not very nice when I'm hungry.

As far as I know, tomorrow will be the end of all the tests and we have a long weekend to explore the area as we don't meet with my doctor to receive his recommendations until Tuesday. I'll also be seeing my lovely writer friend, Baranna, who, we both agree, was fatefully my roommate at the writing retreat I attended in Connecticut last fall. I'm also vying for a road trip to the Louisiana state line just so I can say we've been there. We'll also need to stick our feet in the Gulf of Mexico somewhere along the way.

While we're busy enjoying some southern comforts here, this weekend, some of my amazing friends and former colleagues will be participating in The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Light the Night Walk at home. This is the walk that happens along the seawall in Vancouver every year and the one that my colleagues graciously participated in while I was having my stem cell transplant (which, incredibly, was two years ago next week). Last year, we were able to join them and it was a very emotional experience.

Also, another of my incredible friends, Leah, has asked to walk in my honour, and, as I told her, it is impossible to put into words what it means to have people make continuous gestures of unbelievable kindness toward me and my family. You can visit her fundraising page (and a life-size picture of my head) here.

As if that weren't enough, this weekend is the culmination of all of Lisa's incredible (I really need a new adjective here) work toward her Team in Training Century Ride in Honolulu. A number of you joined us at her fundraiser, Century @ Deuce, this past June and, if you have been following my blog, will know that Lisa completed every step of the TNT Vancouver Marathon with me (and Zoe) last June. She also went on to coach the following season. Again, words just don't cut it.

What a week.