Monday, September 04, 2006

Day 12: Good news

And suddenly it was Day 12, otherwise known, in the United States and Canada at least, as Labor Day. And because it’s a holiday, our friends Larkin and Leonard have been visiting.  Among other things, they brought news of a Dillon-sighting in California@ Saturday evening they had dinner with their friend Linda Sheed, who works for the Trust for Public Lands, where Dan Schwab is director of training; Linda was at last week’s training in California, to which Dan brought Dillon, who was reportedly very happy. Larkin and Leonard also brought their copy of Marianne Moore’s collected poetry, the one edited by Grace Schulman in 2003. Larkin read aloud some of my favorite poems: “The Steeple-Jack,” “The Frigate Pelican,” “Peter,” “”Silence,” Bird-Witted, and “Virginia Britannia”; and Anna read the long, dense, beautiful ode to Mt. Rainier, “An Octopus,” Moore’s recasting of Paradise Lost. ”This followed a great visit earlier in the week from Jim Thatcher and Diana Seidel, who brought with them a bottle of Pinot Grigio (for Anna), a pair of really tasty pecan-and-sour-cream muffins from Central Market, and a really ugly, cuddly, stuffed-animal ladybug.  Later today we’ll see Rick and Evelyn, Anna’s brother and sister-in-law.

Other important news: Anna just came back from brunch with Larkin and Leonard, I’ve had my shower, and am in process of receiving a unit of packed red blood cells even as I type. And we’re waiting for Dr. Andersson to arrive—he’s taking over today as attending physician, succeeding Dr. Ueno, who told me as he was leaving my room last night that he’d been on duty for five weeks straight (I hope he was banking vacation points somehow; that’s a long stretch!). Dr. Andersson is the transplant specialist whom Anna and I first saw at Dr. Tucker’s suggestion in March, when we all concluded that transplant was not needed; he’s also the transplant specialist whom we saw again in May after the relapse in my Central Nervous System and brain was discovered. And of course we saw him again two and a half weeks ago, the Friday before we checked into the hospital.

I’m hoping that Dr. Andersson will confirm what the nurse, Rashad, said was “good news” from this morning’s blood-counts. My white count, the only one they really care about, went ‘way up overnight—from 1.8 yesterday to 2.7 this morning! And yesterday morning’s 1.8 was an even bigger jump from Saturday’s 0.5—such a big jump that they discontinued my Neupogen injection. So my white-count has gone up three days in a row—one of them without external help. And that starts to look like evidence for engraftment, evidence that Peter’s donated stem cells are starting to take hold in my bone marrow, producing the first cells of my new immune system! When I told this news to Peter earlier today, he laughed an evil laugh and said, in the tones of a younger brother who’s waited years for such an opportunity, “I’m takin’ over!”

Meanwhile, waiting for the attending physician or someone like him (sorry, irresistible flashback to old Firesign Theater moment), today’s transfusion of red blood cells has just finished (the hemoglobin count had gone  down to 7.3 overnight, from 8.4 yesterday), and Rashad just discontinued the continuous flow of Dilaudid that had been going for something like 36 hours to handle the pain from my mouth-sores; the mouth-sores have improved considerably, so that I think I can manage just pressing the button when I need it. The Dilauded definitely helped, but it also seems to have given rise to a number of hallucinations” strange, illegible text appearing on everything my eye interpreted as a blank surface, faces looming off my left shoulder (usually) and then disappearing as soon as I turned my head to focus on them. Most interesting was the one I woke up with this morning around 6:00: I knew that it must still be dark outside, but the whole room was suffused with a whitish-yellow light like sunlight, and everywhere I looked I was surrounded by what emerged as soft, crumbling, red-brick walls overgrown with ivy. Every surface appeared this way, so that the walls (which seemed very high) appeared to merge into darkness up high, where the ceiling was. It didn’t matter whether my eyes were open or shut: I saw the same thing. And yet I knew where I was: as I said to Anna when she came in with a yogurt for me, “They don’t allow live plants in here.”


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