Day +524: #year29

Day +524. We’re about 18 months post-transplant and I’m happy to report that all of my blood counts (white blood cells, hemoglobin, platelets, etc.) are back in the normal range! They have been for a month or two now, but life has been so busy I haven’t posted in awhile (sorry guys!). I just got my 18 month vaccination — a 23 valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV-23) which helps immunize against streptococcus pneumoniae. Woot!

Today, I celebrate my 29th birthday. One that was never guaranteed, from the moment of conception through 23:59:59 last night, but was made possible by the wonderful marvels of modern medicine. I am incredibly grateful for reaching such an astonishing milestone — the last year of my 20s.

Reflecting on this, I’ve thought long and hard about how to make the most of this penultimate year of such a life changing decade. Should I: start a new diet, commit to running more hours a week, volunteer more, bake more, travel more, etc? Through all of these fleeting thoughts and conversations with friends, there’s always been one thing that has remained — keep living life. As simple as that. No more, no less.

At the cost of sounding cliche, let me repeat it: keep living life. If there’s anything the entire experience of severe aplastic anemia (sAA) and two transplants have taught me, it’s to keep forging your path forward. Such a simple concept that’s said so often and sometimes not fully understood now deeply informs how I live everyday of my life.

There was a period in the past few months where I was rageful, bitter, and frustrated, to say the least, because of how much sAA had stolen from my life and how much it had affected the lives of people around me. I would have bouts of white-hot, seething, vengeful anger. I’d be lying if I said I still didn’t get angry from time to time. These emotions, however, are living. It took me a long time to realize and accept that the capacity for and ability to feel anger or frustration meant that I was alive. I am alive. Facets of my being, my humanness were indeed back and in full force.

I’ll admit that I wish joy and happiness and contentment were the major conductors of this train (thanks Inside Out!), but that wasn’t my reality. I’ll also admit that practicing gratitude on a daily basis makes for a generally calmer and more content existence, which is something I strive to do more regularly. But the range of emotion, feeling every last nuanced bit of it, is a reminder to myself that I’m alive. I’m here. I’m thriving.

So let a transplant-survivor give you a little advice: don’t stop fighting and do what makes you happy. There’s no better person to be who you are or to do what you do than you. Keep living your life. It’s really worth it; I promise!

In accordance with this new hold on life, I’ve been up to some fun things the past few months. In January, I celebrated the union of two of my favorite people Chris & Danika in Costa Rica! It was such a fun trip and I saw a real life manta ray while snorkeling! (Yes, I did get medical clearance from my care team and had to get a lot of preemptive travel shots before I left). We had a blast for a week exploring the beautiful western side of Costa Rica and partying like we were 21 again. 🙂

I also recently got back from a trip to Paris & London to visit my friends Ryan, Tommy, and Tea. In just two week’s time, Ricky and I managed to pack in as many sights to see and things to eat as humanly possible. Would I go back ever again? ABSOLUTELY. 😀

Till the next time (hopefully sooner than 6 months!), be well, be safe, and thrive.