Sunday, March 27, 2016

Birthdays and anniversaries

Image result for birthday cake
This has been a month of anniversaries. March 12th was the anniversary of the birth of my new immune system (or maybe my first second birthday???), and tomorrow (March 28) marks one year since I escaped the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit. I continue in what my doctor called a "very slow recovery."

Anniversaries and birthdays are usually times for reflection and thinking about our lives. Mostly, I am grateful.  I have been around another year since all of that trauma, and although I am not in remission, my cancer largely appears to be stable. I am grateful that I have been able to get through the school year this year without chemotherapy. I am grateful, still, for each day -- for the beauty of the mountains, for my wife by my side, for the chance to work with students and wonderful colleagues, and for the opportunity to see my sons doing so well.

At the same time, birthdays and anniversaries are times to think about what we could do better, or things we regret. I regret that I am not in remission. I get frustrated in realizing that this journey, while better than the alternative, is not a simple short sprint. I read an article recently on the Myeloma Beacon website that indicated that there is evidence that blood counts are only part of the story -- people with multiple myeloma tend to have chronic immunosuppression due to the cancer itself, the chemo, etc. In other words, it is time to gear up to this reality and just accept that it is going to be, well, ongoing.

I have struggled in the past several weeks with a cold and then some kind of sinus inflammation; I'm sure it is related to either a virus or allergies or both, but it was getting worse and affecting my energy and everything else. I am doing better now after sleeping sitting up for several night and resorting to nasal sprays to reduce my sinus inflammation. It is not gone, but it is better.  All of these things combined last week to make it a bad week -- back and hip pain was worse due to sleeping sitting up, sinus pressure, fatigue, everything. It got really bad by Wednesday or Thursday, and I just had a pity party day -- it just overwhelmed me for a bit.  Then, on Friday, I sat up and slapped myself:

Image result for batman slapping robin

Well, or maybe Batman-slapped myself?? In any case, I am doing better since then.

It is what it is. I said in a Sunday meeting today, and I meant it, that part of what I have learned through this is that in order to move forward, I have to give up trying to get MY way -- I have to accept that whatever happens, things will work out OK; I give my will over to the Lord. That is a part of the message in a wonderful pair of books I've been reading (again) by Lois McMaster-Bujold called The Curse of Chalion and The Paladin of Souls.  In her world, there are 5 gods -- they are profoundly moving stories, but the core of them both is that the main character, in order to make progress, comes to the realization that the gods cannot directly interfere in the world of matter -- they require a person to open themselves up to them, to become a gateway for them to reach out and touch the world. While we don't fully agree with that premise, I think there is a profound truth there -- at least for God to truly touch our personal world, we have to open ourselves to Him, to subsume our will to His. It is not an easy thing, and it is not a single act -- it is an ongoing process.  Someone said to me, but how do we do that? I replied, "I think, for me, it was accepting and saying to Him, I trust you."

Last, I continue with the Zometa "bone juice" treatments to try and strengthen my bones and reduce my risk of future fractures. While it is still not fun, it has gotten better.  The last time, earlier this month, I had a low fever of about 99 for only about 1.5 days, the fatigue and pain were not nearly as bad (maybe 40% of what they were the first time).  So, we'll see how that keeps going.  Here I am on March 11th, having fun (I love the poster in the background.......)

So that's the latest!  Thank you all for being my family, my friends, and for the wonderful things you do.