Totally meant to update here before two weeks had passed. Fortunately, it's mostly because my counts finally rebounded and I've been actually able to do things like leave the house and go to dinners and a movie and even a Bulls game (hi Cathy!).
Of course, the only reason I've been allowed to enjoy these high counts, chemo free days is because my doctors need to keep me well for surgery. Which is on Wednesday. The primary tumor is now small enough that my surgeon can remove it safely. Which is obviously a good thing, but I'm admittedly less than thrilled about being cut open again.
As I recover from surgery, they'll administer a drug to increase the production of my white blood stem cells and push them out of my bone marrow into the bloodstream. After a few days, I'll be ready for the peripheral stem cell harvest. For about eight hours over the course of one and very possibly two days, my blood will go out one arm, into a machine which separates out my stem cells, and back into my other arm. Fun, right?
After harvest, at which point I will presumably be allowed to leave the hospital, I will continue with the chemo I've been getting. I'm hoping this time I'll be a little more prepared to handle the side effects, but of course, there's a reason I refer to the effects of chemo as "side effect roulette." There's no guarantee one course's side effects will be the same as the next.
Ten times out of ten, when someone asks me how I'm doing, I dodge the question, answering only about my physical welfare. Nine times out of ten, you all let me get away with it, but every once in awhile one of you will push me for a real answer. It happened last night, when someone very close to me asked, and I was struck not by an unwillingness but an inability to answer the question. The first response that occurred to me was "I don't know," and truly, I didn't.
It is easy - perhaps far too easy - for me to compartmentalize any feelings of fear, anger, worry, and sadness so that I never have to think about them. It is both a coping and a defense mechanism, and a way of protecting those I love. While in some ways I need to compartmentalize to function (being a crying mess all the time wouldn't help me much), I worry sometimes that in never letting myself stop and think long enough to truly care that I'm closing myself off too much. I know it's affected my faith life negatively (can't pray very well if you're not willing to be open and reflect every once in awhile). And maybe it's just feeling tired and sick and being sick and fucking tired of how little energy I have, but it often feels like I'm losing my capabilities to feel in the way I used to. And yet still I'm tempted to erase these last two paragraphs and just post the facts: counts up, surgery tomorrow morning, harvest. But I will steel myself and post this anyway because it's a step forward and it's honest and I owe it to myself (and to you all for caring about me) to be honest.