Here we are, resting after a great day together. The Flickr photoset says it all!
Originally uploaded by sdpalmer.
Lenna and Brian came to visit on Saturday with Voodoo. This time, there was no mistaking the daddy! Lots of kisses. I took Voodoo for a walk just the two of the us up the Skuykill River and we were both panting from the heat. A bottle of water and a quick walk back and we were both tired after about 45 minutes out in the heat and the sun, hence the resting pictures. Full set available at Flick.
It was a great weekend. I finally got away from Philadelphia for a little while and went down to the shore to visit friends. Angela, Paul, Marnie, their family and friends went out of their way to make me comfortable and it was so good to be out and about. The ride there and back – about 90 minutes from Philly – is a bit tiring on the body, but the pleasure of being around good friends was good medicine.
Of course, sun, drink and music lead to this embarrassing video.
Not to be out-done, Voodoo also had a good weekend with Lenna and Brian: (see the whole Flickr photoset)
Originally uploaded by sdpalmer.
We had a good visit today with Voodoo and mamma Lenna. Voodoo just got back from 2 weeks of “boot camp” training for off-leash training and general obedience. She is a different dog: calm, confident and responsive! What an amazing transformation. No more leash pulling. She sits when told and when she doesn’t – because she does like to test – she gets corrected and she sits, realizing that we *are* in charge and not her.
Here are Voodoo and I on my bed before we went out. When she first got to the apartment, she jumped up on me to say hi and then ran around the place – jumped up onto the couch, ran up to the loft to the bed. She was soooo good and we had a lot of fun.
There are a few precious photos from today. Click on the photo above, or go right to the Flickr photoset.
As I understand it, right after I get the transplant, I have to be recontaminated by those I will be around regularly after I leave the hospital. I’m hoping to bring Voodoo home right after the transplant so I can get recontaminated with her. (Don’t be alarmed by this notion of “recontaminated” – it’s part of the recovery process after the transplant — I’ll explain more in a future posting about the procedure.)
Thank you, Lenna.
At least in the outside world!
Saw the oncologist yesterday. I’m doing OK but the Leukemia has started to reappear in my blood – the 3% of anomalous cells the machine caught on Monday were, in fact, Leukemia blasts. However, I’m still well enough to be out of the hospital and we’re going to push off that return for as long as possible. I have noticed, however, that I am a little more sluggish than before and my knees are really hurting from walking on concrete outside. And I was quite surprised last night as I putting together a book case how much energy it sucked out of me. My blood numbers are otherwise pretty good, but I guess I just need to monitor how much physical exercise I do and pay attention to my body.
What I find so interesting is that, technically, I’m healthier now than when I entered the hospital back in February, but I am significantly weaker. Or maybe I’m just more attentive to the changes in my body. Whatever it is, it’s just another one of those signs that I’m not well and it sometimes makes me feel awful. But I’m dealing. Plus, yesterday, the oncologist referred me to a therapist who specializes in cancer patients.
On the brighter side, we got a very good report about Voodoo’s off-leash boot camp training. It’s funny, I made much of the trainers’ same observations after a year of having her, except one: while I thought Voodoo may have been a little slow on the up-take on certain things, the trainers actually think she may be older than we have previously assumed. Regardless, she did very well: sit, stay and heel she’s good with. “Come”, continues to be an issue – though not entirely a bad one: issuing the command and walking away, she comes; staring at her while issuing the command – she does nothing. I’m so excited and can’t wait to see her on Saturday — videos will be in order because stills just won’t be able to capture this! (Hmmmm … new toy to purchase? )
Finally, saw friends/colleagues this past weekend from Organic. Those crazy kids! Loved seeing them all. Need to schedule more regular visits – I think it helps to break up the monotony of sickness-loathing.
Thanks everyone – be back blogging again soon.
Strength and love…
UPDATE: For the curious, I weighed in at 167lbs (75.9kg) – a 3lb (1.36kg) increase over last week; an 18lb (8.18kg) increase over my hospital low of 149lbs (67.72kg). Mom is to thank for fattening me up with her excellent and frequent cooking. Blood pressure was 122 over 86 and my temperature was 97.8º F (36.5º C, 309º K … for all you geeks out there).
This is a visit I generally dread. Not that I don’t like my oncologist – I definitely do. But I always feel like I have to wade through a bunch of other sickly people and the smell just reminds me that I too am very very ill. Which I’m starting to resent more and more.
So Monday’s blood analysis has my numbers floating in the same areas before – a little on the low side, but I still feel strong, mostly, and have been doing a lot more work and have even been to the office. Although this weekend, I started feeling a little more sluggish than usual. I was enjoying lazy mornings in bed but I think it’s something else. Depression was one thing that came to mind. And then on Sunday, I realized it could be something else … something that Monday’s call with the oncologist started getting me worried.
“The machine says that 3% of your blood looks funny,” she told me. She was sending it off to the pathologist for further examination and that we would discuss the results at my regular appointment with her on Wednesday. Of course this whole day, the suspense has been killing me and I called the office to see if the pathologist’s report came back yet, but I did not reach the oncologist and she didn’t call me back this evening.
Naturally, my worst-case-scenario paranoia has kicked in and I’m pretty sure that what I’m going to hear on Wednesday is that after months of the Leukemia not showing up in my blood, that it’s finally re-asserted itself. Which, in turn, will most likely mean another return to the hospital for yet another round of chemotherapy – the dreaded double dose of Ara-C.
Whatever it is, it has to wait until after the weekend though, all other things being equal. First, I’m expecting a furniture delivery on Wednesday so I can start to feel like I have a home (though I don’t know why since I’m hardly going to be around to appreciate it), but, more importantly, Voodoo is coming down for a visit on Saturday and I really don’t want anything to interfere with that.
I’ve been reading a lot about the upcoming transplant procedure from a thick booklet the oncologist gave me at my last visit. I’ve also been doing my own research on the procedure and have been reading other Leukemia patients’ blogs who are going through transplant now. The process sounds absolutely gruesome and I have to admit that it terrifies me. I’m at the crossroads of not willing to stop living yet, but I just don’t know how much more of this I can endure.
I’m trying so hard to be strong for myself, for my family and for my friends, but lately, that’s been breaking down. And I think my general malaise and sloth are indicative of minor depression. Given the circumstances, I don’t think that’s unreasonable and on my call earlier today to the oncologist’s office, I asked if they could refer me to a therapist with a specialty in working with Leukemia patients.
So I’m trying to do the right things. I read recently that minor depression during the transplant process – before, during and after – actually reduced mortality rates from those patients exhibiting no depressive symptoms. At first I was shocked at that result, but then started thinking that if people are completely emotionally detached or can’t confront their emotions on something like this, there could be a deleterious effect on the body. So maybe confronting those emotions is the right thing to do.
But I am profoundly sad and scared. I cry that I just want to be better – not get better because the process of getting better scares me. I just want to be better. But I know that’s unrealistic, and I find little solace in the fact that the G-d awful process to come will get me there … eventually. It’s a very long road and it’s fraught with uncertainty, risks and dangers. I don’t want to scare anybody who reads this – I’m scared enough for us all (as is my mom, no doubt). But I just had to get this out here.
Maybe it’ll be cathartic. But in all my readings on this disease, I know I am experiencing the two things that I have always had problems with: accepting the loss of my dignity and autonomy and having to ask others for their help and support; and, two, being able to graciously accept it. I’m working on both, but it’s like I have so much to work on, I don’t know where it all comes from or how to keep it all together.
Your emails, cards, visits, calls all help – even if I can’t write back to everyone. I am very humbled by this experience and I wish I could be a better person as a result. I thank you for all your love, compassion, understanding and support. It means more to me than I could possibly ever try to explain. But please know, that even in the absence of me saying it to everyone all the time for all of the little things and all of the big things, and all of the things in between, that I do love you all and thank you from the bottom of my heart and soul.
Originally uploaded by sdpalmer.
Voodoo was being taken care of by Allison for the past several weeks. But it’s been a long time and Voodoo is now with my friend Lenna in suburban New Jersey. Voodoo’s been getting good exercise and after a 2 mile walk today, Voodoo crawled up on Lenna’s couch, on top of the softest cushion with a pillow and a book and took a nap.
Voodoo is adjusting to living with Lenna and Lenna is learning to live with Voodoo. It took me a year to teach Voodoo basic commands by voice. Lenna has started going to obedience school with Voodoo. Voodoo (and Lenna) is learning a lot. Lenna has other animals in her life – a cat, a horse, a great boyfriend and the boyfriend’s dog. Lots of new experiences for Voodoo. But Lenna and Voodoo are doing well together and I am forever grateful for her generosity and love.
I miss you, Voodoo.