Day +136. It’s been a little over three weeks since my last post and quite a few things have happened! I finally have a chance to sit and write because of the calming rain here in SF, but first, a quick health update. It seems like my counts are fairly stable where they sit, which is a little on the lower side of normal. That’s okay because my new marrow may just produce at a lower level (which is waaay better than not producing anything at all!). We’re still tapering off the cyclosporin slowly. Once I’m completely off of it, we should expect the counts to rise some more so that’s something to look forward to.
Otherwise, I’m getting out and about doing more things, gaining more strength, and having more energy. My goal is to be back to work by mid-April which I think gives me enough time to further increase my stamina for activities, to start getting back into an exercise routine, to begin thinking critically again, and to sort out all of the mixed emotions that were left unprocessed since last year (a huge feat which has been difficult to get through).
More on that: 2015 was a crazy year for me. Having gone through a bone marrow and a stem cell transplant, battled severe anemia and survived on the 30+ units of blood from strangers (aka I was a vampire), and dealt with some harsh heartbreak and disappointment, most of the year went by without my noticing. I woke up each day not thinking of the next, but focusing on getting through the whole day. My emotional state for most of the year was neutral, numb. Sure there were peak highs and deep lows at times, but for the most part I kept even keeled and calm.
I’ll tell you, it’s extremely difficult to process through all of the emotions when you’re trying to stay afloat, and by afloat I mean beating chemo brain. I’m utterly amazed at how foggy things are when I think back to any of the time post-transplant(s). How did I function? How did I do anything I needed to get done? How did I maintain any relationships with people? The truth is, I didn’t. I feel like I was an empty body struggling to do “normal functions,” to keep it “together.” Even as I write this now and reflect on just a month ago, it surprises me how much clearer I can just… think.
And with this thinking and reflection come memories of things left unfinished, unprocessed, unfelt. Things that at the time didn’t get the proper attention they required because I needed to focus on eating or taking medicine or my next appointment. There are so many relationships that were left to wither as I became withdrawn and private; rightfully so because it takes two to tango for any relationship. I am and will forever be grateful for all of my friends and family who have supported me and stuck by my side through arguably the hardest thing I’ll ever have to face in my life. Now, though, I feel this strong need to repair and rebuild what was lost, and to repay people somehow, even though I know it’s impossible. These are things I’ve been reflecting on the most as of late.
In other news, I recently got back from a little trip to Austin to visit some good friends of mine. My friends Katie and Amanda so graciously hosted me and Ricky on our visit, and their friendly rescue Vickie was great company too. I got to see an old friend from high school Angeline, who I haven’t seen in ten years (geez we’re old), and old college buddy Daniel and his wife Logan.
Here are a few choice pictures from the trip:
Last night, I had the honor of sharing my story at the Asian American Donor Program‘s (AADP) 9th Laughs for Lives Comedy Benefit. The AADP is a fantastic program that seeks to match patients who are in need of a bone marrow or stem cell transplant with a donor by hosting marrow registry drives and encouraging people to join the registry. They focus on Asian-American and other non-white populations because these are the populations have the highest need with the lowest number registered.
There were a number of hilarious comedians performing stand-up comedy at the show, both professional and amateur. Right before intermission, myself and a stem cell donor Andy were called to the stage to share about our experiences as a recipient/survivor and donor, respectively. I talked about how/when I was diagnosed and how this transplant has changed my life. It was really humbling to share some of my story on stage and how I really feel like I have a second chance at life.
Anyway, here are some pictures from the event:
If you haven’t done so already, I urge you to join the bone marrow registry no matter what racial ethnicity you are. You could seriously be saving someone’s life one day.