Friday, March 28, 2014

Like I Never Left ...

Back at work today, at least for a bit.  Took yesterday off to get unpacked and rest, but I just had too much to do here to stay away from the office at least for a half day.  Also I feel some guilt over being paid for two months for effectively doing fucking nothing, especially when there's so much to be done.

It's weird being here.  In some ways I feel like I never left, and in other ways I feel like I've transcended this particular existence and am someone else now, someone different.  I'm being handed things like I never left, slipping back into roles I've played for almost two decades, but it feels like a new skin.

I need to start getting in touch with some folks to set up "I'm back" lunches and whatnot, but I think that's going to have to wait until next week.  I feel unsteady being back here, abnormal a bit, and I'd like to get my sea legs back first.  Plus now that I actually look like what people expect of a cancer patient (my hair has continued to fall out and nothing is growing back yet) I'm feeling a bit shy about things.  I know that's silly but there it is.

I miss the cats ... I would have thought two months away from the house would have ameliorated some of that longing, but it's just brutally present when I'm home.  Not sure how to swing getting more since Amy is fed up with pets and seems to revel in the fact that "we're never having pets again."  I don't blame her, but at the same time I'm not sure she understands the importance anymore -- motherhood really re-prioritized things in her brain in terms of animals.

I'm at odds, mentally, with who I am right now.  This is a weird time, mentally, as I won't really find out until early June how effective the stem cell transplant was.  Another waiting game, of which there seems to be an endless supply when you have this disease.

On a totally non-pithy note, if nothing else I seem to have kicked my Starbucks habit.  I still love coffee, I just have brought a French press to work instead.  So now Ariana gets to go to college!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Hittin' the Road

Got cleared by the doc today.  Not only can I eat sushi again, but I can do it in Colorado.  Headin' home.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Last Night in the Villa.

We leave here tomorrow for a Residence Inn for a few days ... the villa was already rented for the 24th onward.  I'm a bit sad to leave this place, oddly.  It's become a nice, warm home in the past few months, and the site of several life milestones.

I just need to keep reminding myself that the wifi sucked.

Kind of clock watching at this point.  I almost wish I had flown Amy and Ari out Monday night, or at least made a reservation I could change.  I'm going to want to blaze town right after my appointment Monday if I'm released to go home, not wait here another night.  Driving with a toddler, however, doesn't quite work like that.  On the bright side I have a secret plan if he says I can safely eat in restaurants again ... there's a Z Tejas Grill here (several actually) just like they used to have on the north side of Park Meadows near my office (now some average Thai place with above average pad se lew).  I *loved* that restaurant and was traumatized when it closed.

So if I can't hit the road, at least I may be able to get some good cornbread and some catfish beignets.  Life's little victories.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Friday Night.

Home from dinner with my aunt and uncle who winter out here, and just sitting on the couch feeling tired and a bit melancholy.

Had my (hopefully) last appointment with the nurse practitioner who's been checking up on me today.  Numbers look fine according to her, although they have dropped (platelets, red blood cells and white blood cells) below normal ranges.  She didn't seem concerned though, so I suppose I shouldn't be.  I have another blood test Monday before I see my doctor anyhow.

If things go as planned I'll be home Wednesday night.  It seems like a strange concept and place to me now.  So much has happened, and I've been in a bubble here a bit.  Getting back to the real world, so-to-speak, will be odd.  Even more so because Mischief won't be there -- this will be my first homecoming without the cats to greet me and I mourn that.  I'm sad beyond words that I won't be able once things settle down to kick back in my home office chair and have Mischief come bump my chin for attention.  Life really is emptier without him around anymore.

One advantage of just being able to focus my attention on resting and getting strong enough to get home has been the ability to tune out, temporarily, a lot of this situation.  As I ponder my life once I get home I realize that there's no real escape from this.  Just have to be hopeful that things go well and my benchmark appointments (60 days and 100 days post-transplant) tell us good things.

Random thoughts on a Friday night ... oh, since I've been here I've found out a high school classmate, an old friend and the guy who my college girlfriend cheated on me with all have been diagnosed with cancer since I have.  Before I was diagnosed I knew nobody personally who had it, and now I feel like everyone is dropping like flies around me. 

Such a strange thing to have this -- I try to explain it to people but I know it falls short.  The average lifetime experience, seemingly, just doesn't contain these puzzle pieces.  For which I'm glad, even though I know way too much now about what it's like mentally and emotionally (thankfully not physically yet) to live knowing you are being eaten alive slowly; as much as sometimes I wish it were easier for folks to empathize or understand what I'm thinking, in the end I'm glad they don't.  Much like those internet flicks you may hear about ("2 girls 1 cup", that WSJ journalist being beheaded, etc.) you can't un-see this particular world. 

You don't want to go here. 

I don't want to be here, trust me.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Just Waiting.

Been quiet because there hasn't been much change recently.  I hang here at the villa all day, every day, although it's not too bad.  Quiet, peaceful, and my family is here, so I don't really want for anything.

Had the first really "bad" night last night, which is a shame because Saturday I was doing well.  Couldn't sleep last night and started feeling nauseous around 4 am, and then the dark thoughts just crept in and finished the job.  I guess I've been in recovery mode so hard it didn't occur to me until the dark hours last night that I most likely still have cancer and for all I know the transplant did nothing.  I know that's defeatist thinking, just came out of nowhere.  I've had a pretty good attitude, surprisingly, leading up to this morning so it caught me unawares.

Ah well.  I was expecting ups and downs, so I shouldn't be surprised when they happen.  I have 4 appointments left and then hopefully we'll be heading home in a week.  The thought seems strange, somehow.  I crave nothing more than the normalcy of my old life but I just don't think it exists anymore.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Thinking Back.

 An off-topic post today.  Sick of cancer, glad to be "home" as it were, and hoping I get the thumbs up on the 24th to beat a hasty retreat to our real home and try to lose myself in the mundane.

Thinking about Fear and Loathing the other day brought back a lot of memories -- HST is easily one of my favorite authors, if not the favorite, and favorite journalist by far.  I think a lot of folks, especially on the hawk side of things during the 70's, ignored or never recognized his genius and preferred to focus on what they thought they could handle and understand.  But nobody saw the world, and could relate it, the way he could.  It always brought to mind those conversations you have as you sober up and are watching the sunrise, the combination of chemicals imbibed leaching out and exhaustion giving you some minor epiphany about THE WAY THINGS WORK.

So one of my favorite passages (from the book, not the film).  I can get back to the doom and gloom another day.

Strange memories on this nervous night in Las Vegas. Five years later? Six? It seems like a lifetime, or at least a Main Era—the kind of peak that never comes again. San Francisco in the middle sixties was a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run . . . but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant. . . .

History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit, but even without being sure of “history” it seems entirely reasonable to think that every now and then the energy of a whole generation comes to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons that nobody really understands at the time—and which never explain, in retrospect, what actually happened.

My central memory of that time seems to hang on one or five or maybe forty nights—or very early mornings—when I left the Fillmore half-crazy and, instead of going home, aimed the big 650 Lightning across the Bay Bridge at a hundred miles an hour wearing L. L. Bean shorts and a Butte sheepherder's jacket . . . booming through the Treasure Island tunnel at the lights of Oakland and Berkeley and Richmond, not quite sure which turn-off to take when I got to the other end (always stalling at the toll-gate, too twisted to find neutral while I fumbled for change) . . . but being absolutely certain that no matter which way I went I would come to a place where people were just as high and wild as I was: No doubt at all about that. . . .

There was madness in any direction, at any hour. If not across the Bay, then up the Golden Gate or down 101 to Los Altos or La Honda. . . . You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning. . . .

And that, I think, was the handle—that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting—on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. . . .

So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark—that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Home, Day 12.

Although I still have this fun full body rash I was released today.  I won't wax poetic about what the hug was like when Ariana woke from her nap and I was there ... Use your imagination and know I had been looking forward to that for two weeks.

What I didn't anticipate was just the pure pleasure of sitting on the patio, smelling fresh air, feeling a breeze on my face again.  

Sunday, March 9, 2014

What? No. We can't stop here. This is bat country.

I'm sure the nine-day gap between these posts has been frustrating for folks playing the home version of "Rich Has Cancer," but they just haven't been writing days.  Starting around Day +4 I began feeling the side effects of the chemotherapy, and while mild they were constant and annoying.  Chronic fatigue, nausea, you name it.  I was hooked up to an IV line for the majority of this time being pumped full of liquids only to be told I'm retaining too much liquid and then given drugs to remove the problem manually.

My White blood count (WBC) hit 0 by around Day +8, and then I had to start infusions of platelets and then red blood cells to keep my other counts safe.  I was miserable by now but I couldn't sleep due to discomfort and bloating so I had to be drugged to sleep with Ativan.  I spent several days in an Ativan coma, just waiting for the next dose so I could sleep again, until they decided to ween me off.  After the red blood cell infusions I also picked up a full body rash, some sort of allergic reaction that seems to want to hang around for a bit.

And today I make the call and shaved my head -- tired of watching my hair fall out.

Anyhow not much to say ... my wbc hit .8 today, which is a big jump from 0, and hopefully indicates I can leave the hospital this week.  I'm eating amazing well, mostly fruit, but all clean healthy food.  Totally sick of the hospital although I have loved a few of the nurses and owe a few some aquarium dives when I get back home.

But that's the executive summary ... given the things I was dreaming and daydreaming about in the last week while in the throes of this fucking monster, blogging it would be like trying to explain everything in the hotel room in Hunter S. Thompson's "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" right before Hunter and Duke flee.

When I came to, the general back-alley ambience of the suite was so rotten, so incredibly foul. How long had I been lying there? All these signs of violence. What had happened? There was evidence in this room of excessive consumption of almost every type of drug known to civilized man since 1544 AD. What kind of addict would need all these coconut husks and crushed honeydew rinds? Would the presence of junkies account for all these uneaten french fries? These puddles of glazed ketchup on the bureau? Maybe so. But then why all this booze? And these crude pornographic photos smeared with mustard that had dried to a hard yellow crust? These were not the hoofprints of your average God-fearing junky. It was too savage. Too aggressive.