They moved me back into isolation because I contracted Rhinovirus. This is the third time I've picked it up in the last 6 months - darn my weak-sauce immune system! Don't worry though it's not as bad as it sounds. "Rhino" is Greek for "nose" and the Rhinovirus is actually what we refer to as the common cold. The only problem is that my chemotherapy has wiped out my defenses so I don't have any neutrophils (white blood cells) to fight it. So I'm pretty much stuck with a cold that I can't get rid of. Let's just say I've gone through a lot of tissues :)
Ironically I was put in the same isolation room I had back in January when I was treated for RSV. The familiarity has been comfortable for me. The view is much better than my last room. I can see the mountains in the East and across the valley to the Sugar House neighborhood I grew up in.
I finished my last dose of chemo (for this round anyway) on March 20th. It caused a little neuropathy which wasn't very fun. Neuropathy is nerve damage - in this case my fingers were numb and my hand would cramp up in weird shapes and I'd have to massage it out to move it again. This happened a little bit with Vincristine (the chemo drug) last year, so I wasn't too freaked out, but it does make playing my guitar a little more challenging when I can't feel my fingertips. Interestingly, Vincristine is derived from this lovely flower.
Some good news: for the last two weeks there has been no trace of cancer cells in my blood! The plan now is to give my blood and bone marrow time to recover and then do a bone marrow biopsy. The biopsy will tell us whether or not we were successful in eliminating the cancer from my bones. If we are successful the next step will be to prepare for a second bone marrow transplant. Finding a donor will take approximately 3 to 5 weeks, during which time I will undergo a "maintenance" protocol - basically several more weeks of chemo to ensure the cancer stays in remission leading to the transplant.
There are a number of "but what ifs" hanging in the balance right now, but we are hoping for the best and praying a second bone marrow transplant will do the trick.
I've been doing my best to stay in shape, although I must admit I weigh less at present than I ever have in my adult life. On my good days I walk a mile and I'm eating plenty. The reality is that the chemo depletes my bone and muscle tissue.
I've been drinking protein shakes and I recently got a stationary bike in my room that I've been riding while I watch March Madness - so hopefully that helps. In the hall they have a cork board race track to help you chart your daily walks. My wife brought me some colored pencils and I made a little guitar and beanie for my figurine :)
Ironically, I received a letter from the University of Utah informing me that I had been awarded the scholarship I applied for (full tuition for 2 semesters)! I don't know that I'll be able to accept it but the social workers here at the hospital are contacting the University to see if we can postpone it until my treatments are complete. My mother in law says it's a sign that I still have more to accomplish and that I'm destined to beat this cancer again - thanks Margaret :)
And thank you to everyone else who has been so generous and kind. It may sound strange, but I view everyday from a balcony of gratitude. I've never been in a position to observe so much goodness and charity. It is truly a blessing to see so many who care and serve. I am humbled daily by your examples.