zen.org Communal Weblog

April 7, 2011

A Day Full of Treats

Filed under: — brendan @ 19:16 GMT

It’s a few days into my fifth week in the hospital.  Kind of surreal, the idea I’ve been here for that long—much less the concept of still being here for a still-unknown length of time.  Despite the little change in my surroundings (and discounting the first couple of weeks when I was feeling much worse), I’ve managed to keep myself occupied.  Whether it’s by spending time with Elana, doing puzzles like Sudoku, reading a silly novel, or listening to lots of music, I’ve been lucky enough to have found ways to make the time go by.  Add to this my plunge into learning how to knit, which is one of the most relaxing and enjoyable choices.

Today I had some fun new experiences which added a bit of variety which I hadn’t realized I really needed.   Elana asked a nurse and got permission for me to go for a walk outside!  I had to wear a duck mask, which appeared to be a stranger experience for everyone else around me, in comparison to how I felt.  My current theory is that many of the people who glanced up at me as we walked around were more convinced I was wearing the mask to keep them from getting exposed to some mysterious and horrible disease, as opposed to the real reason of protecting me from exposure to the germs of others.  The mask itself looks kind of absurd anyway, so it wouldn’t take much of an imagination to come up with all sorts of reasons for it to be there.

While walking around, I saw that people can get different kinds of coffees from the shops downstairs.  It’s been about 6 weeks since I had a cappuccino or latte—and there they were.  But because I’m still neutropenic, I assumed it wouldn’t be allowed cuz of potential exposure to who-knows-what.  Well, Elana trumped that one.  She spoke with the head nurse and it was OK!  (With the qualifier, “Only one, now…”  I told her after about age 30 I found more than one coffee in a day usually makes my heart rate go up, so I’ve held back from the seemingly limitless consumption in my 20s.)

Elana went downstairs and got me a large cappuccino.  I drank it slowly, enjoying every sip.  I even used a spoon to carefully get the last little bits from the bottom of the cup.  What a delight.

Body picking up all your waves of positive karma

My doctors (it’s a team, with one as the lead, so I think I’ll start using the plural) had planned for me to get a blood transfusion today because they’d noticed my red blood cell count had gone down slightly yesterday.  This morning, they saw it went back up over a 9.0 borderline count, meaning my body’s generating replacement cells and they could cancel the transfusion.  Cancel it!  Holy crap.

There was also a meeting this morning with the radiologist, analyzing my CT scan results compared to the initial one done shortly after I was admitted.  In the first one, they saw a chest infection.  In the second one, analyzed this morning, they only saw what was described as “a few residuals”.  The doctors who spoke with me this morning said they’re happy with how things went, describing it as having been an acute viral infection which they dealt with immediately with antibiotics.  They toyed with the idea of putting me back on an antibiotic to deal with whatever little “residuals” are remaining, but decided it wasn’t necessary because of the good state of my health overall.  One of the doctors this morning said, “You’re doing brilliantly.”  I know things change from one day to the next, so I’ll happily tuck that one away for today.

To add to this list, which I really find hard to accept in terms of trusting signs of real progress, I tried something different with my eyes today.  The skies of Dublin were overcast for much of the day, meaning light was more subdued than recent really bright sunlight.  So we tried drawing up my window blind, which I usually keep all the way down because of how quickly I can get a headache from the bright light.  I did two ranges of time with the blinds up, a bit around lunch and then most of the afternoon.  No headache.  We both think part of the sensitivity to the light is caused by the fact that I’ve been consciously avoiding the light since my eyes first having trouble during the chemo in early March.  I’m going to try out having the blind up each day, at least a little bit even on brighter days.  (I’ve also got a great pair of sunglasses on loan from a friend, which I’ll use on those brighter days to keep trying to increase my level of comfort.)

Stitching with rock ‘n roll

I spent a lot of time practicing my knitting this morning.  It’s still quite amusing to others around me—the nurses, doctors, even the guys who come and wash the floors with bleach mops twice a day.  A bunch of time was spent knitting my nice happy rows of 20 stitches while listening to rock music on Radio Nova, a Dublin radio station which plays great tunes (which you can hear via an online stream, too).  I choose to listen to AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, and Pink Floyd while staying proud how I made it through more than a dozen rows without a dropped stitch or yarn over, so I figure I’m plenty secure in my masculinity.

On any given day, I could be sitting in my bed or in the chair next to it. The sun will come pouring in the window, my really cool-looking sunglasses protecting me as I succeed in another properly-knit row of yarn, all of this accented by rock music pouring out of my headphones.  Normal image, right?

Perfectly good with me.

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