Hard to believe I have been in the hospital for 10 days. Have not seen my real home in 10 days, not driven in a car in 10 days, not done anything really normal in 10 days. Although strangely it does not seem like it has been a terribly long time. I think that is largely due to the limited decision making role I have assumed in these 10 days. There is not much I can control in this process. My personal space is an 8×12 hospital room with uncomfortable furniture and bad lighting…well, okay not bad lighting, but it’s always either to dark or to bright, I cannot find the middle ground. And everything is scheduled out for me. Somebody brings a meal on a tray 3 times each day, I am expected to take medication at the appropriate times, and another support person cleans my room while I am out walking.
The past two days, before today, were nice days. I felt well. The chemo was not getting its claws into me just yet, and I had real nice visits from my neighbor Steve on Thursday who came by the hospital to drop off some reading material for me and take me to a real lunch in the food court. Thanks Steve. And then on Friday evening, a surprise visit from my old roommate, Matt Martin and his wife Olivia. I was not expecting them at all, but they found me in the maze of the hospital campus and we had a real nice time walking outside and catching up on the many years since we last saw each other. It was really nice getting outside the hospital walls to walk because the weather seems to have taken a favorable dip in temperature. I probably walked 3 miles or more between Thursday and Friday.
Today, Saturday was a different story. I have not left my floor or the 8E BMT unit. Remember, the path I am on dictates that following the chemo, my condition will continue to decline until I hit the absolute bedrock of my health…0% immune system. Then, the stem cells can begin to regrow. One of the main indicators of the decline is the number of white blood cells in my blood. On Thursday, that number was 8.4, on Friday, it was 4.5. This morning when I awoke it was 0.9. So, we can see that it is falling fast! And that is good news to me. I would rather just go right over the cliff on this thing and get embroiled in its full hell so that I can get on with being done with that part. Mitzi was my nurse this morning and she was also encouraged by these numbers and expects me to hit the bottom tonight or tomorrow morning. Mitzi by the way is my favorite nurse here at Emory. I will explain more about her in another post in the future. My head is a little cloudy right now to follow to many storylines.
My parents came this afternoon and helped me to strategize a list of foods I would be willing to eat, and also which are on my “allowed” food list, now that I have been turned over to the “Bacteria restricted menu” at the hospital. We came up with a few options and they ran to Kroger for me. During their absence, my bowels came full circle from last week. Most chemo, and all the chemo I have ever received has done a sterling job of constipating the bowels. I think I heard of it referred to by another patient as mind-bending constipation. And this lasts for days. Pep talks and exercises don’t seem to matter. Despite every muscle in your abdomen telling you that you must get the job done, the key muscle group in the process refuses to cooperate. Well, the final chemo I received has the opposite effect and it has been gradually loosening and softening the process much to my relief. But today was like a bad chip shot, I went from one side of the green (or porcelain) to the other, and found myself in a fit of diahrea. The doctors were really excited about this development though. So excited that they have brought me a special fitting for the toilet and they want their own sample next time it happens. Like I said at the beginning, very few decisions for me to make around here…everything is planned out for me.
My parents also taught me a new card game today that I think I could be good at. It was hard to tell if I was playing well because all day long I have felt like my head is in a bag and my real thoughts are being restricted. I think it is the fatigue of the bottoming out process. I am done with my dinner and I think I will pick another movie out of Netflix to watch on the computer and then I am done for the night. I hope everyone else is having a fun, warm and safe Labor Day weekend.