First up, and this was actually several weeks ago, was a Pulmonary Function Test. A PFT is really no big deal to be honest, nothing terribly dramatic involved, it's just....long...and weird. Basically, you sit in this weird pod that sort of looks like a smart car and are instructed to huff and puff into a tube for a half an hour. Remember Hospital Pranayama? It's totally like that but with a nose plug and pure oxygen. Way cool. Chemotherapy, reduced activity and GVHD can severely reduce lung function (read: capacity) and the pre-and post-transplant PFTs show my team whether or not I've suffered any damage. Nope, all good. Lungs checked out in stellar shape. Gooooood stuff. Oh, as a cool aside: apparently I have very 'long' lungs- which was discovered in my chest x-rays after my port was placed. Maybe that helped?
Next, and this is everyone's FAVORITE: Opthalmology Exam otherwise known as The Paper-in-the-Eyeballs Test. At least this time I a) knew what was coming, b) had my Mom there to document the experience and c) did not have an asshole for a technician. In this gem of a test, the idea is to measure my 'real' production of tears against my 'fake' production of tears to determine if GVHD has damaged my tear production. "What?" you say, "I have 'real' and 'fake' tears without trying?". Why, yes, yes you do. Here's how it goes: they shove these little paper strips under my lower eyelids (the strips look like Ph strips for a fish tank) and then leave them there for 5 minutes. The paper turns blue where my eyes have teared up, indicating volume just like a dipstick does in a car. When those strips are removed, the technician gives numbing eye drops and the test is repeated. The first test shows 'fake' tears- fake because they are from the irritation of the strips being in the eye (uh, DUH) and the second shows 'real' tear production because the eye is numbed to the sensation of the strip. Creative torture, eh? My eyes are perfect apparently. Oh, and I basically LOVE my Opthalmologist here, Dr. Lee. She's this fabulously dressed teeny tiny woman who gushed over the scarf I was wearing (my Hermes from Maggie) and insisted on showing me her 'Hermes of the day' (I kid you not, she owns enough of those scarves to have an 'Hermes of the day'), it was gorgeous. Mom documented the Paper-in-the-Eyeball test (oh yes, the puff again, ugh, it's horrible for me to look at these but, it's what I look like sooooo....)
|Test one: double chin included!|
|Test two: numbing drops make this MUCH easier.|
Wanna know what the best thing ever is though? Like, THE BEST THING EVER???
I managed to talk my team into having my CVC removed TOMORROW (Wednesday) instead of the Thursday! Yes, ladies and gentleman, this is the LAST NIGHT I will EVER have a FUCKING OCTOPUS burrowed into my chest. FUCK YEAH! Before this stupid thing is torn out of me forever, I wanted to share a video of exactly what the hell goes into living with one of these things. My next post will be that video (broken into two parts apparently because Youtube only allows 10 minute uploads and I'm a jabberjaws).
Having this taken out of my chest is the final symbol, to me at least, of leaving this behind. Well, not really leaving this behind, because I'm still very much experiencing it, but I am no longer a cancer 'patient'. I am a Survivor. I will have the scars to prove it too. The cancer is gone, left the building, so it is time to remove the constant flopping plastic reminder of the bastard as well. The removal of my CVC is a symbol of freedom. I am no longer tied to an IV pole to get the things to keep me alive- I'm able to either provide those things myself or my body is producing what it should. No IV Mag, no drugs pumped into my heart, no blood products. Just my body. So much like an infant having their umbilical cord cut. It always seems to come back to that infant analogy with transplant, doesn't it?
Tomorrow will be an emotional day, I'm sure. The day after, even more and Friday most of all. What a spectacularly exciting and terrifying thing this all is. Thank you for sharing in this journey with me. As I've said before, it's far from over, the scenery is just changing a bit:)
Before I say goodnight to dream sweet catheter-free dreams, there are two very special shout outs that must be made. First, to my friend Sarah, who has been both a 'cancer friend' and very much a real friend too. She's back in the clink this week with a viral infection, which is a total fucking bummer considering that she JUST finished her last inpatient round of chemo over Thanksgiving. Sarah has been such a blessing to get to know, as well as her family, and I am so thankful for her. Please send Sarah some of that super powerful good juju y'all have been sending my way. Girlfriend kicks major ass. Also, I promised her friend that I would put his supercool local music website and broadcast on my blog because, well, it's supercool and you should always support local music. Check it out and enjoy: www.locallivehouston.com
The second shout out goes to the students in Stacey Roses' (Professor Rose? Health Educator Rose? What do you all call her?!) class at Springfield College in MA. Thank you all for following with me, cheering me on and most of all BECOMING DONORS (www.marrow.org y'all)! It is beyond humbling to hear your responses to my writing from your teacher. I hope you all had a wonderful semester and enjoy a restful winter break!
So, until tomorrow, dear friends. Deepest gratitude, as always, for everything and my heart is bursting to see you soon!