I’m feeling much better today

September 16th, 2015

I even ate a whole bowl of oatmeal. (I’ve lost 12 pounds. but I’ll find them, again, I’m sure. Or rather, they’ll find me.)

I’m neutropenic, which means my white blood cells levels are less than 0.1%. I’ll go all the way to zero. And in this stage, I can’t fight off any sort of cold or ailment, so they have me on antivirals, antifungals, and an antibiotic drip. But,I got my stem cell transplant yesterday. They put my cells into an IV bag and let them drip into my arm. It made me a little dizzy, happy and tired. All those cells have to do now is grow into an immune system (magic). It takes 9 – 11 days for this to happen for most people. I will be neutropenic the whole time.

I gotta say, the day after the 4th day of chemo…well, I mean, I’d been poisoned. I was on 3 kinds of nausea meds, but my insides were green. I felt like if I opened my eyes, I would throw up, and if I threw up, I would also poop, and if I also pooped, I might just have to lay on the floor and die. Only the floor would be too cold. So the only thing for it was to be perfectly still with my eyes closed and wait. I couldn’t even listen to a book on tape. Which is bad.

Then yesterday was better, more fear of nausea than actual nausea, and lots of Ativan and Benadryl to sleep all day with. I have so much more compassion for people who have to get chemo on a regular basis. And how must it feel to get chemo, and then have it not work. I cannot fathom. I understand getting tired of it. I understand why they call it a battle and why some choose not to fight. I’m so grateful that I am not in those shoes. A big reason I got through these last two days was because they were temporary — this treatment has a beginning and an end. Plus the end could mean my progression stops, and I might actually get better.

The mean part of me used to fantasize about giving people a temporary version of my MS. Somebody fit, young and beautiful would complain (for too long) about something minor, and I would wish my ailment on them for one hour. Just see how it feels, fuckface, to have trouble walking. Then I will listen to you complain about your temporary ailment, boo-boo, baby shit. Is that too mean? I only felt that way on a few occasions. But I have felt that way.

But chemo? I wish that on no one. Certainly not on the ill and frail. I am so grateful for all the science and hard work that went into finding this potential cure, but I’m also sure that in 50 years we will find this as barbaric as bloodletting. We will laugh at cocktail parties, remember chemo? Wasn’t that awful? People were so stupid back then.

17 Responses to “I’m feeling much better today”

  1. David Kwee on September 16, 2015 2:55 pm

    This week, you are a platinum medalist in the pain olympics. Congratulations!

    Oh yeah? Well I had a few hangnails last week. Now those are painful. And opiates do nothing for those.

    Halfway there. Oh, and BTW. . .

    You kick ass. You kick ass. You kick ass.

  2. Julia on September 16, 2015 2:57 pm

    Karen! You’re back. It’s wonderful to hear.
    It’s funny, I think everyone would expect that mean voice. I’ve caught myself having complained to you about my life-drama, thinking afterwards that you probably wanted to strangle me. My mom told me once that having kids amplified or intensified her experience of her life, her highs were higher and her lows were lower. It sounds like MS has has showed you harder experiences than some of us have had to endure. I hope that your highs are made proportionate higher to balance.
    Looking forward to hearing about those dizzy-happy making stem cells.
    Love Julia

  3. Mom on September 16, 2015 3:15 pm

    All is well on the home front. Another beautiful day. So glad you are feeling better.

  4. Paula on September 16, 2015 3:20 pm

    You did it!!!! So happy that you are feeling better Karen!! You are such a strong woman! Been thinking and believing that you would get through that crap! So happy to hear that chemo part is over! XXOO

  5. Jenny on September 16, 2015 3:59 pm

    Ahh, Ativan. It helps, but it doesn’t help. I’m glad you’re on the mend. Keep growing that immune system. It’s important work for your body. Rest and think good thoughts.

  6. Gabrielle on September 16, 2015 4:03 pm

    Yay, stem cells! I think of you often throughout the days, and each time I do, I picture al your happy lil stem cells so glad to be home again, and racing through your veins excited to find new homes where they can settle down and replicate their little hearts out.

    Sending love and hugs but from a distance because I don’t want to give you my germs even in my imagination. xo

  7. Lisa on September 16, 2015 4:38 pm

    Your post is serious I know, but you calling someone a fuckface made me do a spit take. I am in complete and utter horror and awe of what you are going through, but so incredibly certain you will emerge on the other side of this the triumphant honey badger, faerie-butterfly that you are. I am glad you feel better than yesterday and i wish for these next weeks to soar by. If I suddenly had a time machine I would give the first ride. I love you, you beautiful, tenacious kick ass superhero! <3

  8. Laurie J. Edwards on September 16, 2015 5:10 pm

    You know, I’ve often compared chemo and bloodletting & leeches. Seems strange to kill off the good with the bad, but I hope this works wonders for you. And I can’t wait to go to that “remember-chemo?” cocktail party. You will be one of those heroes who made it through in triumph. And after you’re done dancing, you’ll get to say, “When I was young, we really did…”

    So glad you’re feeling better! Sending “multiply, multiply” thoughts to your stem cells. Hope they replicate like crazy. And I’m praying germs stay far, far, far away.

  9. Laura on September 16, 2015 5:30 pm

    I’m so glad to hear you’re feeling better and on the home stretch of all of this. You’re a brave lady to open this part of your life up to all of us on the outside. I read your posts religiously and continue to admire your strength and courage. You are awesome and may you soon have a brand new, awesome, kick ass immune system to match up with the rest of you.

  10. Nathan on September 16, 2015 6:54 pm

    Cheesecake! 12 pounds of cheesecake is the solution to that pesky weight loss when you are feeling up to it! Maybe with a little fruit to help make it healthy…

    Until then, keep strong, know that many people out here love you, and feel better soon!

  11. Laura Staman on September 16, 2015 7:55 pm

    I love you Karen and I think you are fantastic. You are rocking it! You are doing it! I honor you, my triumphant sister. Laura

  12. Liz Hollar on September 16, 2015 10:42 pm

    So glad to see you posting and feeling better. WooHooo! And hoping you feel well enough soon to have a fabulous 12 pounder dinner with Chris.

    You’re awesome.

  13. Kim on September 17, 2015 4:35 am

    honey badger i’m glad you’ve fought thru the worst of it …. i had complete faith in you! ive had chemo …breast cancer…..and knew you were going to have to gut it out and you did yeah!!!!!! now for the rebuilding i hope your body does a good job of it…..lots of love and light!!!!!!!!!

  14. jenny ward on September 17, 2015 5:57 pm

    Oatmeal! 12 pounds, there’s chemo for the win. I’m so glad you’re a tiny bit better and those good stem cells are doing their magic now.

  15. Linda on September 17, 2015 10:40 pm

    If I could take your suffering, I’d break it into a billion, no trillion, tiny pieces and it would float away, dissipating into nothingness and never hurt anyone again.

  16. Nina on September 18, 2015 3:50 pm

    Glad you’re up and writing again on your way to being you again. Love you.

  17. Pat on September 18, 2015 10:34 pm

    So glad you’re feeling better—here’s to antinausea meds and immune systems taking root!

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