My motto lately has been "More silence, fewer words". I've actually stopped my own psychotherapy and begun working with a meditation coach. I see now that this has also impacted my blog.
The last three weeks have been mostly about sitting uncomfortably with Tad's immune system at Zero - the goal of chemo for leukemia. Then waiting for it to rebuild itself.
The first phase lasted a good 12 days, the second took about 3!
During these times of waiting it is very tempting to fill the wait with all kinds of words/thoughts/scenarios. I have found that the very best way for me to go through this is one day at a time allowing myself to only have thoughts and feelings about what is actually in front of me and not my scary fantasies.
Last night, quite unpleasantly, the staff sent us hiking. We no longer qualified for the more specialized-care bed of a chemo patient and were sent to the lower realms of the liver-transplant folks which was so calm it looks like it's about to go out of business. Tad has actually been on the 14th floor of a unit which has its HQ on the 11th floor but because they don't have enough beds they borrow 10 rooms from the 11th floor.
The highlight of the 30 days in hospital was a few hours of birthday party in the "Solarium" (think big corner office with lots of windows and ugly furniture) which we managed to turn into something almost warm and welcoming. Tad got special permission to get off the ward as long as he wore a face mask between the two worlds. Sweet friends came with cards, gifts and hugs.
The other highlight was actually a darker moment. Around day 10 we discovered that contrary to what we had been told, this was not round 2 of 3 but instead round 2 of 4. It seems that the misunderstanding stems from the previous doctor's declaration of remission being a bit premature. Apparently further data came back indicating that Tad's cancer wasn't entirely in remission. Thus this last round of chemo wass intended to eradicate it as much as possible - the absolute prerequisite before doing the "transplant" that will hopefully keep him cancer-free.
This "transplant" consists in giving Tad an immune stimulant in order to build up his immune system into a mega-immune system. At that point they will put him on a sort of dialysis machine and extract his life-giving stem cells from his blood. These will be frozen then re-injected into his body after Round 4 of chemo. They are the seedlings that are meant to keep him cancer free.
In essence the procedure has two basic principles: 1 - eradicate all immune system good and bad several times and let the good rebuild itself hopefully without the bad and 2 - give the good cells an extra boost by fertilizing them with your own previously produced good stuff.
We will know in about 2 weeks if Tad has achieved remission - this will be based on the results of a bone marrow biopsy to be conducted in 10-14 days. If he doesn't hit remission the doctors will elaborate a second strategy.
In the meantime we return to the slow sweet life of Santa Cruz: kitty, gardens, neighbors, friends, walks along the ocean, breakfasts in Seabright.
This stay will also include the highly-anticipated visit of my 13 year old godson and his parents from Bordeaux. He's looking forward to hanging out with Tad and me (and riding the rides at the Boardwalk!)