Today is the five year anniversary of my stem cell transplant. To say that I’m overwhelmed with emotion would be a gross understatement. Five years. Five extra years, on this earth. How insane is that?
When I think back to the dark days — when my thoughts and recollections were foggy and I couldn’t take a flight of stairs without being winded; when coffee was the only way I’d stay awake for the afternoon and I’d take two trips a week to the hospital for red blood cells to stay alive — I wonder how in the world I kept going.
When I think back to the hard days — when my octopus arm (Hickman catheter) would get snagged on clothes and I was on an around-the-clock medication schedule; when the stem cell transplant successfully grafted, which resulted in unquenchable electrifying shocks of full body, bone-deep pain; when each hour wasn’t a promise and each day wasn’t a guarantee — I ask myself how I didn’t constantly break down into a puddle of tears.
When I think back to the recovery days — when I had to relearn how to use my atrophied body and any form of exercise felt like an insurmountable task; when I had to relearn how to use my mind as words, dates, and details were forgotten and I couldn’t trust my mouth to accurately communicate the thoughts in my head; when I had to relearn how to use my heart to exercise compassion towards myself and my slow progress — I ruminate on why I didn’t give up.
Five years. A lot happens in five years. People get married, have kids, travel the world, endure deep grief, celebrate supreme triumphs. Folks start new jobs, end bad relationships, begin new ones, buy houses and cars, revel in simple pleasures, save up for the future. A lot happens in five years and I’ve been very fortunate to live through these moments.
To say I’m grateful for this time wouldn’t quite capture the seemingly infinite feeling of gratitude that I carry in my heart today. To say I’m blessed doesn’t quite get at the joy and humility that vibrates from every corner of my being. Suffice it to say, this extra time has been incredibly precious to me, and sharing it with people I love is more than I could have ever asked for.
So, from the bottom of my heart, to each and everyone one of you, thank you for coming along and riding these waves with me. I’m excited for what the future holds; a future I now get to plan for!
Onward, to the next adventure.