Wildflowers

A tree in our yard surrounded by wildflowers

A tree in our yard surrounded by wildflowers

Nature has a way of making disorder look like a plan. My gardening secret is wildflowers: whatever you do with them works. In my yard, they piece together colorful mosaics that ignore the borders of the frame into which I sowed them last March. Lupine encroaches on the lawn; red poppies take root happily on our gravel driveway, and purslane spreads among my more ordered perennials.

My cancer also has an independent streak. The purpose of this blog is primarily to recount my experience with multiple myeloma. Yet I’m feeling so healthy there’s hardly any news to report. That’s good; I’m not complaining the myeloma refuses to cooperate. I suspect there will be plenty to write about in the days (years I hope) ahead.

Happy flowers

Happy flowers

Still, it’s important to not let this blog wither on the vine. When first diagnosed, I found support in the personal accounts of others living with MM. Therefore, it was disconcerting when a few of those blogs ended abruptly. Had they died? Or, had they run out of things to say due to good health? Whatever the reason, I wanted to know. Hence, you have my promise for a full accounting be it boring or redundant.

I’m currently living drug-free. I don’t take any supplements other than a multi-vitamin and 1000 mg of calcium. Since the stem cell transplant I’ve had two colds. Each passed through my body normally, just a few days of symptomatic annoyances. Thus far, my exposure to the public at work has not caused me any problems. I will receive my childhood vaccinations in August. At that time, my immune system should again be intact.

Blazing color

Vivid color

Lingering effects of the cancer treatment do persist. Peripheral neuropathy causes numbness from my toes to my ankles. It is more aggravating than disabling, much like my feet going mildly to sleep. The problem is that they don’t wake up. Incidents of nerve pain flare on occasion, though the neuropathy stabilized once I stopped taking thalidomide. It has not gotten better…or worse.

Off and on I experience a rapid onset of fatigue. I believe it relates to my red blood cell count. If you recall, anemia led me to my doctor and the diagnosis of multiple myeloma. My counts improved over the last year but have yet to return to normal levels. Therefore, I am prone to unpredictable slumps in energy.

Furthermore, there are mornings when I awake unusually sluggish. It’s not sleepiness. I sleep more soundly than I have in years. It’s more like my blood has congealed or pooled as I lay in a prone position. It resolves rapidly and I’m soon perking along with my morning person enthusiasm. But there’s no precedent for the logy beginnings to my day other than the treatment I received or the cancer that I have.

 Come out to view the truth of flowers blooming in poverty

Come out to view the truth of flowers blooming in poverty. Basho

As much as possible, I detach myself from what the cancer does or doesn’t do. I observe it, accept it, and write about it. For now, the disease behaves itself. I enjoy a quality of life unique to anything I’ve known in years past.  I live in close proximity to not only my own mortality, but also that of a cadre of cancer patients writing about their journey. Together, we seek a pattern in the chaos beyond the ordinary boundaries of life.  It may not always be discernible. But it’s there, in that wildflower portion of our soul, germinating in the most unexpected of places, vividly coloring the landscape of our lives.

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9 responses to “Wildflowers

  1. John: I’m glad you’re still going to keep writing; it’s never boring. I check out your site frequently for the beautiful prose and pics. Your wildflowers are beautiful!! It sounds like you’re having a wonderful summer. Hope the hiking gang can get together soon!

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  2. Thank you. Thanks for taking time to talk about your life. Your garden must be beautiful when taken in with one grand sweep. The poem sounds like a water fall.

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  3. Lovely post, John, as always. Like you, I sometimes wonder about myeloma folks who have simply stopped blogging, not only Jon but also Cindy and Sherry, e.g….I hope they are just too busy to post…
    Your wildflowers are gorgeous. Over the years, we have tried to plant all sorts of flowers in our front yard, but very few, even the toughest varieties, survive. Puzzling.
    As for blogging, here is another reason to keep doing it: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-healthy-type
    Here’s to many more years of blogging! 🙂

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  4. I enjoy your style of writing so don’t let it slide! I too wonder when myeloma bloggers “disappear” – always hoping they are out there enjoying their lives, but always fearing they may be gone.

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  5. It was an unexpected pleasure to stumble upon your blog as I was searching last year for information – a relative has MM. Now I check back in more to read your general observations about life and to see your photographs as I am an amateur collector of life around me as well.
    It is sad to learn of those who were consumed by the disease, and I have also wondered about those bloggers who have stopped… but isn’t that part of the curiosity of the present?

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  6. Great Blog! I have added you to my blogroll, “Cancer Blog Links” with over 400 other cancer blogs at http://www.beingcancer.net, a cancer networking site featuring a cancer book club, guest blogs, cancer resources and more. Please stop by and visit. If you like the site, please consider adding Being Cancer to your blogroll.
    Take care, Dennis

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  7. John,
    I hate to make these comments but then again, I hate not to. Think about those re-immunizations. Talk to a few different docs if you can. There are people on the acor list that swear they knocked them out of CR and 2 if not 3 of the people my hubby transplanted with all went out of remission or stable disease when they got their shots. My hubby’s doc feels they are not necessary as does some other MM specialists. If you are really worried due to your line of work, they can take blood and check to see if you still have some of these immunities still “on board”. I don’t like to be a wet blanket but I wonder if all these cases could be coincidence or if the immune system gets too much stimuli from all that.

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