Today, at 11 am, under an overcast sky, I left our residence for the clinic. There I met with a doctor and a physician’s assistant from the Infectious Diseases department. The SCCA’s impressive attention to detail reassures my participation in their transplant program. Monday, a second CT Scan should provide them with the information about proceeding with treatment for any latent pneumonia. If the scan proves negative, then the team can schedule the chemo and transplant.
Following this meeting, I set out for Queen Anne Hill, a neighborhood in NW Seattle. I found a second hand bookstore staffed by two humans and four cats.
I am forbidden from petting animals of any sort, unless I can immediately wash my hands. Accordingly, I restrained myself.
After this stop, I wandered along the new streets before making the long way back to Minor Ave. N, where the PGH is located. I hoofed between four and five miles. And, as with all my walks of late, I topped it off by climbing the 99 steps from the lobby to our sixth floor apartment. Yeah I know, I’m pathetic: bragging to a captive audience. Forgive me, but blog rhymes with hog and it must be fed. Anyway, I arrived at the door of #611, huffing and puffing at 4 pm. Soon thereafter, a gentle rain began to fall that continues now, five hours later.
Exercise frees the mind. Well, my mind, at least. Looking back over some recent updates I detect a pattern of self-pity. I admit to being guilty of an attitude tilting toward the negative. I don’t blame myself. I’m not ashamed. Ultimately, I realize it is part of the process. I’ve mentioned that cancer robs the patient of many things. Certainly, the familiarity with one’s normal behavior takes a hit. I’m a positive person. My walk this afternoon renewed that optimism.
While at the clinic today, I visited with some acquaintances. The degree of honesty among us is extraordinarily high. The bond of our life threatening illnesses cuts through the etiquette of political correctness. Before we get to the niceties of family and jobs and hometowns, we spill the details of why we are at the clinic: the stage of our disease and treatment and the prognosis. We need to talk with those who can relate. The bad news comes first. We listen to each other’s particulars, the discovery, the options, and the consequences. Then we move on to the background, which completes the picture.
One young man and his wife spoke bluntly about their experience with an aggressive blood cancer called MDS, myelodysplastic syndrome. This generally transforms into AML, acute myelogenous leukemia. This disease is rare in patients under the age of 50. He is 34 and the father of four children, the youngest of which are twins aged 20 months. Because of his youth, he was able to take advantage of an allogenic transplant. In other words, he utilized the stem cells from an anonymous donor. Such a transplant comes with higher risks due to the threat of graft versus host disease whereby the body rejects the foreign cells. Yet, it is his best option. Thus far, since the procedure on July 4th, he seems to be improving. His future, however, is clouded with doubts.
I thought about him a lot during my plodding rehabilitative hike today. I did the math on our age difference. I felt grateful for the precious gift of those 27 years of life separating us. Though the age of 61 still seems young to me as I’ve much living I’d like to do, I also understood that if that young man were offered the opportunity to just make it to 61, he would strike the bargain in an instant.
Think about it. What are you going to do with the next 27 years of your life?