Friday, March 8, 2013

tuck and roll

My arrival date in Seattle is April 3rd. I have known about it for about a week now, but like a lot of other important bits of information and transitional milestones in my life it has taken me a little while to process the reality of the situation. I am hardly a knee-jerk reactor. There was a time when I worried if I had any feelings at all, but I have since realized I am a low simmer and not a rolling boil. Unless, of course, substantial heat is applied and then everything in my path gets a good scald. Someone in my past accused me once of not facing things, not dealing with my problems head-on because I don't like to talk about my life issues immediately as they are happening. I guess some people just don't value a good mull. I like to examine a situation from all angles before I decide how I really feel about it. That might take a few minutes or a few weeks. My mom came out to the family when I was 12 and I held a neutral opinion of her lesbian leanings until I was a sophomore in high school. (The opinion I landed on was that I had very little interest in whether my mother was attracted to men or women, but held a strong interest in whether or not the people she dated or was partnered with were kind, honest, and treated all of us with respect.) So you see, it has taken me a week to ponder the reality of my bone marrow transplant enough to really talk about it.

I am certainly frightened. There is nothing appealing about the process of having my marrow stripped from my bones and waiting out the battle between the new marrow and my body while the marrow figures out it is in a new home that needs its attention. The mortality component doesn't help, nor does the temporary increased risk of vulvar cancer. Without the transplant, vulvar cancer and leukemia are both eventual inevitabilities so the choice is to tuck-and-roll or stay in the car while it crashes at 70mph into a concrete wall. I have always been good at the tuck-and-roll. When I was 17, I jumped on the back of a friend's slow-moving station wagon and had to leap off and roll when she started to speed up. My awesome tuck kept my ice cream cone perfectly intact. The same happened at 23 when my skateboard hit a crack in the street and bucked me forward, and despite a sloppy, ass-over-tea kettle roll I hopped to my feet at the end with nary a scratch and my lit cigarette still in fine shape. I know a little bit about not completely eating shit. This skill or instinct will surely help me get through four months of awful.

The coordinator called yesterday to give me an overview of what to expect. I will have about two weeks or so of exams, meetings, and preparatory appointments before they even start the conditioning process. I will have to see a dentist, take classes with my caregivers, meet with a nutritionist, have a pelvic exam, and have a central line installed. Tubes going into my heart and sticking out my chest may currently outrank death in things that give me the willies. This is subject to change, but today it is grossing me out. After all that business is squared away, I will have my week of conditioning where I will be poisoned and irradiated to eliminate my bone marrow. T will have had two weeks off at this time, but will come back towards the end to have his stem cells tapped. Then the transfusion, and then 2-4 weeks in the hospital. It turns out that I won't be in full-on isolation unless there is some sort of complication. Once I can walk around and eat and drink on my own I will be released to patient housing where I will stay for the duration of my remaining 3 months of observation and treatment. If things pretty much move along this schedule I could be home by August, my favorite month in Portland. I could even be home in time to adjust to being out of the hospital setting, get some strength in my muscles, and attend the wedding of one of my most favorite people and his sweetheart.

That reminds me... I want to make a blog post about love and community and I am making a note here so I don't forget.

The ball is rolling fast now, and I am excited to get this whole miserable process underway. I'm terrified and grumpy about what it entails, but if I can be getting ready to surf and camp all summer by this time next year then I'm glad to get it over with. They say it will take a year before I really start to feel Better, but I'm awesome so I will try to make it happen in nine or ten months. I want to start my surf conditioning by March. If I can make requests of people, two of them are: please send me letters and postcards; and please tag me in all your fun, awe-inspiring, exciting, and/or peaceful photos from your outdoor adventures this year on Facebook so when I log on I can go right to them and pretend I am there. Thank you.

When I get scared, I think about this song (somebody's dog footage is just a bonus):