My poor tablet sits, alone on the window sill. Each day it seems to be saying, “remember me?” I honestly can’t remember ignoring my tablet and it’s portal to the online world the way I have in the past two weeks. It has literally collected dust.
I picked it up today with the sole intent of coming to this blog and shutting it down for good. I simply feel too crummy to type or to surf the web. I didn’t realize, before now, that when your stomach is nauseous that it is hard to follow the cursor on a screen.
I do remember a day, about four weeks ago, when I was meeting with a social worker as part of the prep for a stem cell transplant. I told her how good I was feeling on that day. I had not had dialysis for four weeks at that point, and dialysis always made me feel bad. I had also not had chemo for eight weeks, which made me feel at least as bad as dialysis. I told her that I was feeling 80% normal. She gave me a smile and said something strange, at least I thought it was strange at the time.
“Michael, remember how you are feeling today and know that someday, hopefully, you will feel this well again.”
This was just days before the stem cell transplant. This social worker is part of the stem cell transplant team and knew where I was heading.
Medical care has two main purposes. One is to ease suffering. The other is to save lives. It is hard to imagine that we just went through a very complex process that will end up costing hundreds of thousands of dollars and that process has taken me from feeling 80% normal, to feeling horrible. But the purpose of this process is to save my life, not to reduce my suffering . . . at least not yet.
I do have hope that there will be comfort coming. That hope is seen only as mirage at this point, but has factual basis. For one, there is a very good chance that I may never need dialysis again and that alone may usher in a much better feeling, in a few months.
The Seattle Cancer Care Alliance has the most experience with stem cell transplantation in the country. They have well-written road maps as to what to expect at each juncture. For now, and for the next few weeks, diarrhea, cramping, nausea, vomiting, altered sense of taste, and several other symptoms dominate. These should slowly subside.
I am now entering a new phase where things like “cognitive changes” start to appear. I don’t what will mean for me or even why it has to happen. I don’t know how much of the old Mike is still left. I look at myself in the mirror and I don’t recognize myself. The bald head is just the most obvious. But the muscle wasting, purplish hew to my skin, dark eyes, all seem to tell me that it isn’t me in the mirror. If I start to loose my cognitive abilities (and hopefully it will only be temporary), what’s left of me? Will I be able to rub two words together to create a sentence? Will my brain get to frolic in the fields of “high thoughts and pondering” ever again?
So, I came here to shut down this blog before I start to really ramble or where my cognitive lapses allow more room for typos to grow. But instead, I find myself sharing more thoughts. It appears that for now, I will leave this place intact, in case there is enough of the old Mike left in the end to make sense about something.