As advertised, John is feeling “punier” by the day as the melphalan goes to work. Through yesterday he was able to eat sufficiently and drink the required 100 oz. of fluid per day, but by today he just can’t manage. So he will get a liter of fluid by IV today (at home), and probably continue with this regimen until he starts to feel better.
Nausea and vomiting last night and this morning was abated somewhat by a compassionate nurse who gave him an Ativan injection. So far this has been the worst of the side effects. John has not contracted the dreaded mucositis that so many patients deal with after melphalan. The prophylactic treatments of ice chips and amifostine seem to have done their job. He has not felt so miserable that he wants to go into the hospital, either, though he probably has another week of dealing with extreme fatigue, nausea, and perhaps worse before the stem cell engraftment and rebound. Despite his lack of energy, he has climbed the 99 steps to our 6th floor apartment every day!
During our week’s respite in Hood River we had a chance to see the movie, “Man on Wire”. It’s a fascinating documentary about a Frenchman named Phillipe Petit, who walked a tightrope between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in 1974. He crossed the wire eight times, in an unbelievable display of daring, artistry, ingenuity, a touch of madness, and most importantly, balance.
Petit’s feat went largely unrecognized, lost in the day’s headlines about the imminent resignation of Richard Nixon. The drama of “Man on Wire”, however, is played out on a smaller scale every day by those whose lives are a balancing act. Maintaining one’s health, positive attitude and independence while facing life’s bigger challenges requires great physical and mental discipline. Look around, look deep, and you may see your friends and neighbors quietly displaying the qualities that made Petit’s achievement possible.