Can’t Stop… the Music…

First off, I have to say I have no idea why I have “American Pie” stuck in my head right now. I must have done something really bad in a previous life, so this is my punishment. Well, this and that cancer thing.

I’m currently awake not because of Don McLean, but rather because of my head swirling into another deep depressing “I’ve got cancer” spiral. I’m not sure how I got to thinking about my previous career as an x-ray tech (in February it will be ten years since I’ve taken an x-ray. Man, I’m old), but somehow it spiraled and coalesced into more greiving about my current situation.

Perhaps grieving is too strong a word. This is nothing like last Wednesday’s breakdown. Merely more of a tired re-pondering of my current life. In the movie world, I’m somewhere between “Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes.” and “I’m getting too old for this shit.” So yeah, more tired than sad. In either case, it’s keeping me awake right now.

On Thursday, I saw SuperCoop to get the rundown on what’s happening to me next and when. All of the fun starts next Thursday, the 6th of July. It’ll be much as we expected way back in February – high dose chemo (BEAM) followed by the stem cell transplant. About a month after the SCT, I’ll get some high dose tightly collimated radiation to my mediastinum. For those of you who are scratching your heads, that means I’ll be getting a tight beam of radiation to the center of my chest. Here’s sort of what my upcoming schedule looks like:

Day -6: receive the “B” of the BEAM chemo: BCNU. I already forget what that stands for, but it’s long.
Days -5 through -2: I get the “EA” portion – Etoposide & Cytarabine. I think the Cytarabine is the “A.” I know, but what can you do? I get the drugs at the clinic in the morning, then again at night at home by a home care nurse. Two of the treatments are on Saturday and Sunday, so morning and night doses will be given at home.
Day -1: I get the “M” drug, Melphalan.
Day 0: I get my stem cells back. SuperCoop says it won’t take me as long as most, as we collected all of my stem cells in one day, which means they should be in one bag. They give me the cells back and super-hydrate me to help my body get rid of the extra red blood cells that were in with the stem cells. Once there’s no more blood in my urine, I’m free to go. One other thing to note, I will reek of creamed corn due to the preservatives they kept my stem cells in. Good thing I already hate the stuff.
Day +1: Rest day. As long as I feel okay, I don’t have to go anywhere.
Day +2 through Day +12: Show up at the clinic each morning for bloodwork, IV fluids, neupogen (yay.), anti-nausea meds and anything else they might need to pump into me.

After that, everything pretty much depends on how I’m feeling and how my counts are doing. Yay.

In happier news, we’re continuing to get our nest padded and organized here at Dogwood Place. It’s a weird experience after Whitney Street. In Hartford, we spent so much time just making it liveable that by the time we were able to live in it, we had already decided to get it ready to sell. Rather than making it a home, we began making it ready for someone else to live in.

Now we have our real home and what should be our last one. It feels so much different when we’re doing things here, because every action has a certain… permanence. I was going to say “finality,” but us cancer patients shy away from that word. “Permanence” gets the point across though, I think. The things we’re doing to this house are not to increase the selling value, they’re to increase our enjoyment and comfort. As I’m lying on the floor, upgrading our electrical system from two prongs to three, the thought hits me that this may be the last time I ever do this in our house. Once every outlet has three prongs, I’m done with that job. We won’t be moving on to another place that I have to do electrical work on.

The thought astounds me.

I think the idea of permanence has really helped out my perfectionism as well, at least in the arena of home repair. While there’s still a needling need for doing things perfectly, since this is Our House, I can now sometimes take the broad overview and say to myself “It isn’t absolutely perfect, but it’s good enough to last for twenty or thirty years until it drives me crazy and I have to make it perfect.”

That being said, I still have yet to get everything moved into my workshop, as everything there naturally has to be “just so.” I tell myself it’s just because it’s a small space and I have to make sure I have enough room to do what I want, but deep down I know the real reason.