1. My friend Meghan Metzbower makes a mean veggie lasagna, which tastes even sweeter when it’s hand delivered to your door;
2. My doctor - who is “very serious" - actually has a sense of humor hiding under his white lab coat that comes out when I wear shirts that say things like “Hey Cancer, You Picked the Wrong Bitch” (thanks Cyn & Eva!)
And most importantly;
3. Apparently my version of "taking it easy" and my immune system's version of “taking it easy” are very different.
When I went in for my chemo treatment yesterday, they checked my blood counts and the white cell count was too low to treat me. The doctors want the number to be 1,000 or above, and mine was 400. Thursday it was 1800. So in the span of four days, it had dropped 1400 points or ccs or whatever unit they measure white blood cells in. Yikes.
I also learned that I am not bulletproof or superhuman. (Dammit!! – And I was so sure…) Apparently that whole “getting kicked in the head by a horse” feeling that I so naively thought I had avoided, is a side effect of this drug called Neupogen, which is used to stimulate rapid grow of white blood cells. I didn’t have to get it last time. I got it yesterday, and...I feel like I got kicked in the head by a horse. Or at least like the horse is sitting on me. Either way the horse is not a nice horse and it's definitely not a pony. More like a giant stallion that's used to pull heavy machinery.
This whole immune system snafu feels kinda like those times in high school when my mom told me to do something (or more to the point, NOT to do something) and I did what I wanted to anyway, because my plan sounded more fun -- and then I got caught. Well this weekend was really fun...and my immune system just grounded me. For like 6 months. This is a bit tough to take at 35, but I think this is part of the larger lesson I’m supposed to be learning: Just. Slow. Down.
It’s a lesson that the universe has been trying to teach me for years, and one that I've more or less successfully ignored, but this year it seems the gloves are off. I am picturing the cancer like a big, hairy Italian man named Uncle Gino, tapping a lead pipe in his left hand and telling me to rest up “or else.”
Fine. I get it. It’s a bummer too because there’s this awesome grape stomp/wine festival at the Sugarloaf Mountain winery I wanted to go to on Sunday….Okay, okay fine. I’ll sit on the couch and watch movies and eat soup. FINE.
I had taken a whole “screw you, cancer” attitude, which makes perfect sense given that it's trying to kill me, but I’m starting to view it more like a slightly overbearing house guest who’s arrived from out of town and wants to crash with me: You can stay for a week and then you have to leave. And in the meantime, I will appreciate my time with you as much as I can, given that you’re eating all of my food and you snore like a truck driver and you’re sleeping on my couch. Or to put it another way: you’re in my life for a reason, so let me try and focus on that. Also, you’ll be gone in a week. And a week (or six months) in the scheme of my very blessed life is not so bad.
And now for the good news – the Neupogen is working, my counts are up to 900 and with the second shot I got today, Dr. Fishman says I can get chemo on Friday. Woo hoo!! (as my friend Amy said “who thought I’d be HAPPY to hear that you can get chemo?!?”) What can I say? This whole "having cancer thing" is full of surprises.