My counts are recovering more slowly this round. Apparently that’s what happens when they kick the crap out of you with R-HYPR-CVAD. Thanks for saving my life toxic chemicals, but can we please get this over with as quickly as possible. While I wish I was going in tonight to get this round done, I am so happy that I have a few more nights at home with Jacq, Sophia, and Otis feeling relatively strong and good.
I am slated to start chemo now on Thursday or Friday, which means I am probably having a chemo-tastic Super Bowl party in the hospital this Sunday night. Chemo + football = fun!
So bring the beer, chips, and nachos. I’ll supply hospital food.
On our flight back from Florida this morning, with my hair falling out by the minute at 41,000 feet, and with little Sophia’s face and clothes covered in it, I knew that it was time to shave the noggin. But before I shaved it completely off, I tried a few new looks…
“The Hole In The Head”
“The Angry Yarmulke”
“The Clubber Lang”
“The Sophia Head”
The Return of Bald Mike
With my counts finally out of the crapper, Jacqui, Sophia and I are making a quick trip to Florida to visit our families and spend some time with my dad who is still recovering from surgery last month. He continues to improve and Sophia has proven to be the best medicine for his recovery.
Chemo starts again on Monday or Tuesday. Welcome to the dreaded B cycle. Should be fun. I am stocking up on platelets and hemoglobin to get me through.
If anyone is A+ blood and you live in Philly, please think about donating. I recently purchased an antique “Do It Yourself” blood donation kit, rusty needles and all, and we can take care of the transaction in the comfort of your living room.
If you are not A+, please still think about donating. There is always a need for blood donors, especially for our soldiers in Iraq.
Last night, while looking at photos from Sophia’s birth, Jacqui finally admitted to me how freaky and frightening I looked at the end of the last B-cycle. With barely any red blood cells and hemoglobin, down a few pounds, and exhausted and beat up from chemo, I knew I looked like Jeff Goldblum mid-transformation in The Fly.
Witness exhibit A:
I looked like a freak. Bald. Skinny. Pale. My nose looking bigger than ever. But my wife, who obviously loves me even in my Frankenstein stage, kept insisting that I looked OK. And so did many of you. Wow, denial is one powerful coping tool.
I beg you all, if the chemo should again transform me into a circus freak, PLEASE DO NOT tell me I look good. If I look like crap, it is part of the process. Chemo is not a day at the spa, and looking like shit is the norm. May I suggest the following approach: “Mike, holy crap do you look bad! Clearly the chemo is working!”
And now for a bonus shot of me reading to little Sophia.
My counts are recovering nicely today, save my platelets which were at 8000, a number low enough to activate my “platelets are low warning system” which caused my arms to wildly flail up and down in the air like the Robot from Lost in Space. After a fresh bag of platelets this afternoon, I am feeling good, ready to lead the Drexel School of Public Health team at tomorrow’s rugby match against those rubes from Penn. Thanks anonymous platelet donor from Cleveland, because of your help I still get to knock some skulls at tomorrow’s match.
The rest of this week will be easy, except for the fact that my hair has begun to fall out. I’ll probably shave it in a few days, making the metamorphosis back to bald Mike complete, at least until I am in my 70s and have a comb-over. See you in early April hair!
Thanks for coming to take good care of me! See you soon. Love, Sophia
I have written a lot about my hair during this ordeal, a topic on which some of you have mocked me as being a bit vain.
I can accept that. And now that my hair has grown back (albeit until next week and then again back for good in April), I can safely vouch for the magical powers of chemotherapy in hair restoration.
But there is something about my hair regrowth that is frightening me and maybe even you if you have looked closely–I now have hair growing out of my nose and ears at a pace that is making me look like an 80-year-old, gold-chain wearing, shuffleboard playing grandfather named Maury living in Miami Beach circa 1984. Or even worse, will I look like that ubiquitous guy on the ski lift who you can’t stop staring at because of the frozen block of snow and boogers hanging off his nose hair?
I am happy that chemotherapy has saved my life, but I am now left to worry about the long term side effects of “Nair”-ing my nose and ears for the rest of my days. Yuck.
This afternoon Jacq, Sophia, and I made what will be post-chemo twice weekly trips to the 15th floor of Penn Tower to have my blood tested to confirm that the chemo is doing its job, and, of course, not doing its job not too well. Witness last cycle’s bottomed out platelet and hemoglobin counts that left me barely able to move and requiring multiple transfusions. I am happy that the whole process worked, but vigilance will keep me safe and hopefully without neutropenic fevers.
So far, the counts are all dropping normally, I am not yet neutropenic, and we are therefore looking forward to a nice dinner of my choosing tonight. I am feeling tired, but I have not yet hit bottom.
There is definitely a different feeling to our trips to 15 Penn Tower now that we have little Sophia and now that I am lymphoma free. First, having Sophia with us not only makes us focus on health over wellness, life over death, but in a place that sees so much sickness we watch in wonder how Sophia seems to inspire smiles in doctors, nurses, staff, and most certainly fellow patients. We walk in the door to the clinic and our little Sophia is mobbed, a baby celebrity in a world that needs it so badly. And that is a good thing. Second, that my lymphoma is gone now and hopefully forever, the visits seem routine, and we are focused on the future, and on health, and on long life. We could ask for nothing more in this wondrous new year.
I noticed earlier this evening that traffic to the blog had risen dramatically during the last few days. On a typical day the blog sees anywhere between 100 and 250 readers. Yesterday we had well over 1000 visitors. Being a bit chemo-brained it took me a while to figure out that it wasn’t delymphomatization that was attracting new readers, nor was it that our adorable daughter’s smile had suddenly gone viral on the web, but rather it was furry little Otis registering his opposition to our President’s so-called “surge” who was attracting all the attention. Otis, you are more than man’s best friend, you are now a national symbol against a failed war and a failed presidency. Way to go little man. You’ve made us proud.
So a hat-tip to the folks at buzzflash.com who somehow discovered that Otis too had come out against the “surge” and posted our little puppy on their site.
By the way, Otis is still against the surge, despite being threatened by a neighborhood pit bull (neutered) named Cheney.