To have great poets, there must be great audiences.
-- Walt Whitman, poet (1819-1892)
I am an antique mirror. Old mirrors do not reflect crisp images -- they have a hazy, golden shade and suffer splotchy areas that manifest darker than the rest. Although my frame feels frail, weakened by the ravages of toxins and time, I still hang around, reflecting on events and scattering what light I can. I wait to discern whether I will be judged trash or treasure...
Reverie and Revelation
On Wednesday, a Facebook friend posted an evening meditation from Set Your Heart Free:The Practical Spirituality of Francis de Sales which suggested adopting an attitude of gratitude and offering as thanks "the silence of this night."
It was only recently that I discovered that other folks don't live with the raucous clangor of grinding joints and digestive processes, punctuated by the "thump, thump, thump" of their own heartbeat. I thought I was hard of hearing, but it's just too noisy inside my head.
Journey of Sun and Shadows
Our drive to Rochester, MN and Mayo Clinic on Tuesday, April 2 was both pleasant and exciting. Pleasant because the sun shone all day. Exciting because deer were on the move, seeking better forage...which apparently is nearly always on the other side of a highway. We had a perfect score...no hits, all misses.
|Image from warmer days...|
Thursday, April 4 was the Day of Consultations. My medications and my current condition was reviewed and examined. I met with my oncologist/hematologist and with a pair of lung specialists. Not all test results were back yet, and what they had was a mixed bag.
Friday, April 5 was the Day of Escape to Home. Our journey was once again sunny and pleasant. Traffic was a bit heavier than before, but the roads were good and it seems the deer were mostly resting and playing chicken with other drivers.
My doctor called Thursday this week with final results from the bone marrow biopsy. My "bone marrow biopsy shows normocellular marrow with normal trilineage hematopoesis. No morphological features of CML or dysplasia were noted. Chimerism studies show 100% donor DNA." This means my marrow was clear of any indication of leukemia and full remission continues. My blood DNA is still 100% my brother Kevin's DNA, and therein lies the dark side of my deal with the disease. Most BMT recipients trade one set of problems for another and hope that the new set is manageable and (at least for a time) non-fatal.
My blood work and tests showed marked improvement and stability. Blood counts are great, most are even within normal limits. My skin rash has disappeared (except for the recalcitrant scleroderma rash on my feet) and even the peripheral neuropathy problem with my hand, legs, and feet seems to have receded a bit.
Plan of Attack
I remain on immune suppressant medications, with all the restrictions that implies, although my prednisone is now only 5mg every other day. We have to return to Mayo Clinic in four months for follow up testing and possible oxygen titration tests (these involve a treadmill and sound awful). I continue to take three medications to help with my lungs, but refuse additional inhaled steroids for the nonce, as the current damage occurred while already on steroids (prednisone) and they seem to do little to stop progression.
Supplemental oxygen would make breathing easier, but I prefer to work on an increased regimen of progressive exercise, to try to improve my ability to use what capacity I retain. Because I am able to maintain an O2 saturation at or above 88%, even when on walk-about, my insurance will not cover portable oxygen. My O2 levels drop quickly when I move, but they also recover quickly when I rest. Problem is: At 88%, things get a bit weird and fuzzy, and I need to rest immediately. Going beyond that limit is a lesson in pain I do not wish to learn over and over again.
However, candles or not, this ancient mirror will shine on that anniversary, with a light born of love, prayers, and God's grace. I thank you all for your prayers and good thoughts that blossom with a radiance to dispel the dark shadows that haunt my days and dance on the edges of my dreams.
Good day and God bless,