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.
I can tell you the first time that Sophia smiled at Jacq and I. It was two weeks ago when we were in Miami for some quick R&R. It wasn’t just one of those looks babies give when they have a little gas. It was her first full faced smile. Mouth, cheeks, eyes, forehead. It was quick. It melted our hearts.
I have quickly discovered that the milestone moments of parenthood–your child staring at you for the first time, their first smile, etc.–are life changing moments, made all the more powerful and lovely by our crazy situation.
We wait for these moments, knowing that they will come. We anticipate them impatiently. And when they come they are permanently etched in our hearts and minds, never to be forgotten and always cherished. They are moments taken out of time, especially when my time has been spent these last 5 months recovering from round after round of chemotherapy. They are for me, not simply moments to help me get through the nausea, the exhaustion, and the discomfort, but they are beacons of the future, knowing that I should get to enjoy a lifetime of these milestones, from a simple smile, to a first step, to her first words and onward.
With another chemo just about behind me, I am excited to get home to my lovely family and the comfortable confines of my couch. While this has been an easy stay–barely any nausea, plenty of good sleep, and the knowledge that I am lying here lymphoma-free–it has sucked to be away from Jacq and Sophia. Sophia seems to change a little bit every day. And while I’ve gotten to see her each day, I want to be with her all the time, literally watching her grow, coo, and play all day.
Home today means a few days of nausea, then a brief respite before the mild neutropenia of the A cycle. I can’t say that I am looking forward to three more chemos, but each stay here means having this process closer to being behind us. And that, my friends, is a great thing to be looking forward to.
We are currently in the planning stages of a huge lymphoma free celebration in late May or early June. We are planning to do a 5k run/walk in Philly and then having a big bash at the house. More details to come.
It has been an uneventful stay for the A cycle thus far. The most excitement was the 9 hours of continuous sleep I got last night. Ah, the irony of checking into the hospital for chemo to get a good nights sleep. On the other hand, Sophia must miss me terribly because she has been sleeping poorly since I left on Monday, which means that Jacq too has not been getting much sleep. Urg.
Otherwise just been doing some work this morning while waiting for the crew to show up. Can’t wait to see Sophia’s smiling face.